A Lover of Books

Blog Tour – The London Murder Mysteries: ‘The Girl in the Gallery’ by Alice Castle ~ @rararesources @DDsDiary @crookedcatbooks

‘The Girl in the Gallery’ was published as an eBook on the 19th December 2017 by Crooked Cat Books and is also available in paperback.  Having really enjoyed the first book in the London Murder Mysteries, ‘Death in Dulwich’, I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate.

 

Book Blurb

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…

It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.

She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.

Who is The Girl in the Gallery? Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

 

My Review

I was hoping to get around to reading ‘The Girl in the Gallery’ at some stage. Then something magical happened, an email came through from Rachel inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

I really do like Alice Castle’s style of writing. Her descriptions of the paintings in the Picture Gallery were fascinating and I felt as if I was learning something. It was also great reading about areas that aren’t that far away from me. Some of the chapters were much longer, but that didn’t put me off at all. I liked that there were section breaks throughout.

The first chapter left me rather intrigued. Having got back to normal after the murder at Wyatt’s, Beth Haldane was enjoying a visit to one of her favourite places, the Picture Gallery. Little did she know that she would stumble across something that wasn’t part of the actual exhibition. Before she knew it she found herself deeply involved in another investigation and in contact with DI Harry York the investigating officer again.

This was such a fascinating investigation and it also gave a good insight into teenage girls and the pressures they face these days. Unfortunately, the web and social media can be dangerous.

It was great catching up with Beth. I’ve said it before but she really is such a lovely person. It would be so nice for her to have some romance in her life. I think that Beth would make a good detective. She certainly came up with some good theories. I grew to like Harry York even more. I loved reading about his book collection and of course wished I could be there checking them out.

I really liked the idea of Beth’s cat gossiping with one of the local neighbourhood cats. That made me smile. I have always wanted to understand what animals and birds are actually saying to each other and wish there were language courses. Maybe one day, hey. I would be one of the first to sign up to them.

Although ‘The Girl in the Gallery’ can be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading ‘Death in Dulwich’ first. This is turning out to be a great series and I can’t wait to read the third book. Long may they continue.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Girl in the Gallery’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Gallery-London-Murder-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B076ZJHFGG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1532247884&sr=1-1

 

Giveaway

There is a competition running to coincide with both blog tours.  The prize is signed paperback copies of ‘Death in Dulwich’ and ‘The Girl in the Gallery’.  To enter just click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About Alice Castle

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019.  Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book review via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

 

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Blog Tour – ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ by Hannah Lynn ~ @HMLynnauthor

‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ was published as an eBook on the 11th July 2018 and is also available in paperback.  I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book and would like to thank Hannah Lynn for inviting me to participate.

Do I have a treat for all of you today or what.  There are some Questions and Answers from the author, an extract from her book and there is also a giveaway which is being run throughout the tour.  All that to come in a minute though.  First, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity.

Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.

 

Hannah Lynn on her new novel The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

How did you get the idea for The Afterlife of Water Augustus?

I can actually remember exactly when the idea came to me as I was in a really bad mood at the time! It was the weekend of my birthday and we were meant to be going on holiday, but my husband was unwell so we had to cancel. We also had visitors over, so between checking on my husband, looking after them and working I felt completely run off my feet.

One of our guests was watching a TV programme about a psychic, and that got me thinking about the afterlife, and how there could be enough space for everyone. I was still mulling over the concept when the idea of Walter being trapped until he was forgotten sprung into mind and I honestly thought, this is it, this is the reason I didn’t go on holiday because if I had I would never have had the idea.

 

That sounds like you’re a believer in fate?

Hmm, the jury’s out. So much is beyond our control and I’ve had a couple of very peculiar instances, but then there are too many bad things happening to good people for me to be convinced.

 

What did you find yourself researching for this book?

I spent a surprising amount of time researching the ins and out of professions in the 1800s. In my first draft Walter started out as a doctor, so I spent time researching the different type of medical practitioners that were around back then. Afterwards, when I decided that wasn’t quite right, I got stuck into research about ironwork and being a farrier.

 

Who was your favourite character?

This book was tough. Quite often I have a clear favourite, but in this one I don’t. I have genuine affection for them all, even the ones who don’t appear that nice!

 

Why did you write about the afterlife?

It’s always been a source of intrigue to me and I think to many others.  I’ve tried before to write novels about it, but this is the first time all my ideas seemed to fall into place.

 

How long did it take you to write The Afterlife of Water Augustus?

Walter was the quickest first draft I have ever written — however it then took another 3 drafts to get something more concrete to work with. In total, it was a little over 2 years.

 

What was the hardest part to write?

Probably making all the time frames to work logistically, particularly with Walter popping in and out of the Afterlife

 

Who should read the Afterlife of Water Augustus?

Anyone who is not convinced they are going to live forever! Seriously though, it’s a book that I hope will be both amusing and comforting.

 

Extract

Chapter Two

The corridor in the interim was by no means your standard corridor. In fact, it would not, by the average lay-person’s standard, qualify as a corridor at all. A sea of free-standing doors stretched out endlessly into an infinite landscape which — like the doors themselves — would change and transform almost daily. It was easy to see how people found pleasure in the unexpectedness and beauty that rose from this magnificent panoramic backdrop which was so central to the interim afterlife.  Although Walter was not one of those people.

Today, the doors were a heavily stained cedar, from which rose an earthy and damp perfume that blended perfectly with the cut grass and linen aroma. The floor, by contrast, was an infinite expanse of powdery sand that shimmered and glinted in the soft light, and from somewhere far off came a light-fingered mastery of the mandolin. The destination of these doors was, to Walter, as elusive as the manner in which they were constructed.

Perhaps, it was his age or the cynicism that had grown from being alone for so long, but to Walter, the interim no longer possessed the irrefutable prestige it once had. There had always been the odd rancid egg — those that had difficulty letting go or found pleasure in the obscure — and, of course, those whose memory lived on for the most abhorrent reasons — but it was the vast quantity of them still hanging around that was worrying. Men, calling themselves actors, gathered in droves, discussing the time they had a walk-on part as a half-eaten zombie or laughed about their pet cat on ice going viral, whatever that meant. Wives of ex-cons gossiped and whinged about the good old days over frozen margaritas and manicures, not in some secluded doorway, but out in the open, for everyone to see. Gamblers, addicts, and musicians: once their time here had been brief, but now, they never seemed to leave. Yes, in Walter’s opinion, the prestige of the interim had most definitely deteriorated.

Walter kept his head down as he hurried through the corridor. He had visited Betty often since she had moved into the home and barely needed to lift his eyes to find the way. After a few minutes and having successfully avoided the gaze of every person on his route, Walter found the door he was looking for. He twisted the handle and stepped through.

Elizabeth Mabel Green was the last person on Earth who knew who Walter Augustus was. She had read Seas, Swallows and all but Sorrows — the only remaining copy — in the early sixties, and while some parts of her memory had given way over time, she had remembered his name as clearly as she remembered her own. She remembered how she chewed on a crumpet whilst her father read the poems over breakfast and how the melted butter dripped down her chin as she listened. She remembered the coarse woollen blanket that covered her knees while she fought off the cold and re-read her favourites in the first home she had ever owned. She did not remember every word of every poem, but she remembered the way they made her feel.

When Pemberton finally departed the interim, Walter had assumed he would not be far behind. But Betty continued to cling to his name and his poems. Even now, in her last days, Walter could feel the tugs as he flitted through his memory. After all, Walter was family.

Betty Green’s hospital room was adorned with several bunches of flowers. It sported a small white cabinet and plug-in air fresheners at every available socket, although they did little to camouflage the scent of Dettol and urine that rose from the carpets and bed sheets. Betty lay beneath a powder blue blanket that, at a casual glance, appeared motionless, although Walter— and any person who cared to sit and study it long enough — could see there was still life in the old girl yet. Walter watched the faint rise and fall. He could hear a gentle hiss as the air was drawn in and then expelled from his great-great-great-great-granddaughter’s lungs and the weak double thud of her fading heartbeat.

‘Are your kitchen tiles a nightmare to clean?’

Walter jumped back from the bed.

Behind him, a small black box was affixed to the wall, inside which a tiny woman was on her hands and knees scrubbing a floor. She looked out at Walter, opened her mouth and spoke. Beads of sweat began to bubble on his forehead.

‘You need to try Fleazy Klean.’

The woman’s voice, rather than coming from her mouth, came from another little black box, two feet to the right. Walter shuddered. A television. Even avoiding the present day as he did, Walter had not managed to evade this unnatural source of wizardry. One glimpse of the shiny black glass was enough to send his post-organic frame rigid with tension and his surplus-to-requirement pulse into overdrive. He side-stepped away — keeping half an eye on the mini-man who was now on screen, apparently trying to sell him some kind of dental apothecary — and focused his attention on Betty.

Walter knew there must be pain; there always was at that stage, but for now, she seemed at peace.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, leaning over and whispering. ‘It’s not the end. Everyone’s waiting for you.’ Betty mumbled softly. Walter reached down and stroked her forehead. ‘Take all the time you need,’ he said. He waited another minute, offered a final uneasy glower to the man with too many teeth on the television, then opened the door and stepped back into the corridor, a spritely spring in his step as he walked.

***

Low slung clouds shrouded the sky as Letty strolled up the high street.  The evening was cool, and a light breeze carried on it an aroma of oak trees, honeysuckle, and the slight hint of motorbike fuel. Donald would be glad of rain, Letty thought. The humidity of the last month had played havoc with his joints too. A little way up the high street, she stopped. Resting her arm against the yellowish Bradstone wall, she kneaded the base of her spine with her knuckles. In one of the stores across the road, the back-to-school sales signs were already being pulled down and replaced with pumpkin banners ready for Halloween. Letty’s stomach churned. If the thirty-first of October marked everyone else’s Halloween, Letty’s personal day of nightmares came a few weeks earlier each year.

Despite living less than five miles away, Letty and her sister Victoria saw each other an average of three times a year, Christmas, the twins’ birthday, and once in July to remember their mother’s birthday. Occasionally, they would place a meeting somewhere between January and July to bridge the sixth month gap, but that was not always the case. As it was, Victoria had cancelled the July meet-up this year, as the twins had a last-minute gymkhana competition they simply couldn’t afford to miss.

There were various reasons that meetings with Victoria tended to be tense, one of the overwhelming factors being money. While Letty suffered from an affliction of saving money, the same could not be said for her sister.

‘It will just be a short-term loan,’ Victoria said the last time. ‘And the interest we’ll give you will be far better than any you’d get at the bank.’

‘But what about Mum’s inheritance?’ Letty said. ‘That was over twenty thousand pounds.’

‘My thoughts exactly. And I’m guessing it’s just sitting in your account earning you nothing. If you look at it that way, we’re actually doing you a favour. Think of it as an investment opportunity.’

Letty had mumbled something unintelligible as she shifted uncomfortably.

‘Great,’ Victoria said. ‘Do you want me to set up a bank transfer before I go?’

‘What’s she doing with all their money?’ Donald said when Letty told him of the conversation a couple of days later. ‘And what happened to her share?’

‘I didn’t want to ask.’

Donald huffed. ‘Well, you know how much you’ve got left of that money. If you think we can lend her a couple of grand, then it’s up to you. But don’t go leaving yourself short.’

That had been over a year ago, and Letty had neither seen or heard anything of her investment opportunity since.

The other point of tension came from the children. As anyone who had witnessed Letty at work could testify, she had an uncanny affinity for small children. Be it screaming toddlers, or sulky teenagers, somehow Letty could bring the best out of them all. All children, it seemed, apart from her nephew and niece.

Whilst some may have seen fit to liken the pair to characters from a Stephen King novel, Letty would have considered this unfair, given the possible moral redeemability of the bloodsucking clowns and monsters Mr. King portrayed. Likewise, adjectives such as spirited and boisterous seemed far more suited to rescue puppies than to the double delinquents with whom she somehow shared DNA. Born after years and years of trying, Victoria viewed her children as nothing short of miracles. Throw in the added guilt she felt at being an older parent and a father who was barely home, and it was clear how Victoria and Felix had raised nothing short of monsters.

Every visit included a fight. Sometimes, these involved weapons, such as a plastic Buzz Lightyear or a conveniently placed lamp. Other times, it was simply teeth and nails.

‘They’re energetic,’ Victoria said. ‘Lots of intelligent children are like this.’

Letty wasn’t so sure. The twins’ birthday, the singular time of year when Letty truly considered giving up baking for good.

The cake thing had become somewhat of a venture lately. Twelve months ago, she had been doing one order, maybe two a month. Now it was more like that a week. And gone were the days of simple round cakes with a little bit of pipe work. In the last month alone, she had created one Peppa Pig cake, two M&M piñata cakes, a Louis Vuitton handbag, three cupcake wedding towers, and a hen-do cake that even now turned her cheeks scarlet at the memory. Of course, the area manager had dropped by for a chat on the morning she had taken that one into work. The meeting had been tortuous. Letty sat nodding, her mouth bone dry, beads of sweat trickling down her forehead as the box sat perched above his head resting on top of the size 12 men’s brogues.

‘There’s really no need to look so worried,’ the manager had said. ‘Everyone’s numbers are down on this time last year. You should see Stroud’s numbers.’

Letty nodded mutely.

When he finally left, she had told Joyce she was taking an early break, at which point she collapsed onto a box of lime green flip-flops, red-faced and trembling. No more hen party cakes, she decided after that one. Not unless they were picked up from home.

‘You should be charging proper money for these,’ Donald said, almost every night as she stood in the kitchen rolling out fondant and mixing up buttercream.

‘I’m not doing it for the money.’

‘Well, maybe you should be. You’re wasted at that shop. And we can’t rely on my wage forever. I’m getting old.’

Despite Donald’s concerns, Letty was savvy enough not to be out of pocket. She charged enough to cover the ingredients and a little bit more so that people felt they were getting quality. In her opinion, people always became suspicious if they thought things were too cheap.

The sky twisted with soft greys and lilacs as Letty ambled towards the crossroads. Somewhere, a bonfire was burning, and the tang of pine drifted the air.  She glanced down at her watch. Five thirty-two. Friday night meant Donald would be out for drinks with the other men from the water board. A homemade pie was defrosting in the larder, and a large apple crumble awaited them for dessert. She had a little time to spare. With one last glance at her watch, she changed her course and crossed the road. Thirty seconds later, she was standing inside the bank.

Letty preferred these bank machines, as unlike the others on the high street, they were tucked away inside a building. Whenever she used the outside ones, it felt as though someone was there, peering over her shoulder, trying to steal her PIN code or tutting if she took too long. That afternoon, only one of the machines was in working order, and when a young man with a toddler in tow stepped through the automatic door only a moment after she did, she waved him in front.

‘Honestly, you go,’ she said.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course, of course. It’s no problem.’

Letty stood what she considered a suitable distance behind, while the man did his business. After he finished, she offered him a polite smile and watched as he exited the room. Only after the automatic doors had closed and she felt certain that no one else would be entering for at least a minute, Letty moved to the cash machine, inserted her card, and tapped the screen.

Entering her PIN was a reflex response. After all, she had had the same PIN for every card that she had ever owned and had no intention of changing it anytime soon. A series of options, including Cash or On-Screen Balance, appeared in front of her. She selected balance.

As she waited for the number to appear, she withdrew a small notebook and pen from her handbag pocket and wrote the date at the top. A moment later, a number appeared. Sixty-seven thousand, six hundred and sixty-eight pounds and twenty-four pence. Letty wrote it down in her notebook. After confirming with the machine that she did not require any more services, she withdrew her card, placed it back in her tattered old wallet, and selected another.

This second account gave a similar reading to the first, as did the third and fourth she checked. The fifth came in slightly lower, at only twelve thousand, two hundred and nine pounds and thirty-three pence. She was about to check her sixth when a cough behind her caused her to jump.

‘Sorry,’ Letty gasped. She pulled out her card and hurriedly backed away from the machine. ‘I’m all done now.’

Even two minutes later, when she was back on the street, her pulse was still pounding. Her money situation, she reasoned, had lost control. Letty sighed, causing a small flock of pigeons on the pavement beside her to take flight. She was going to have to tell Donald sooner or later. She just had to find the right way to word it.

***

Deciding to make the most of what was possibly his last day in the interim, Walter gathered a loaf of bread and small bottle of ale from his miraculously stocked larder and placed them into his satchel. He was dressed in his usual attire of a twill woven shirt and breeches, but had abandoned his apron for the day. With a light-hearted jaunt, he stepped out through his back door and strolled to the end of the garden.

A narrow path lined with daisies and buttercups materialised and meandered down to the bottom of the cliff. His feet crunched on the fresh grass. He would miss this scent, he decided, but then perhaps, it was the same wherever he was going next; after all, it seemed too good a choice to meddle with. Walter closed his eyes and breathed in the warm, salty air. He couldn’t have asked for a better day.

A little way away from the shingled coast, Walter was stopped. He stared and blinked and felt his pulse hasten in his veins. Dampness built on the palms of his hand, and a noose-like sensation tightened around his throat. He gaped at the figure on the shore. This was his beach. Why would anyone come here? Who even knew about it? Walter’s pulse cranked up another notch as he scanned the area. It was definitely his beach, his place alone, his private corner of the interim. Perhaps it was a mistake, he thought and, with silent steps, trod forward. The grass gave way to sand dunes and then to shingle, all the while his eyes locked on the shadowy figure. He was less than six feet away before the air was knocked from his lungs.

‘No,’ Walter gasped.

The face turned around to look at him. It was a long face, so long it was difficult to see where his nose ended and chin began. His cheeks were hollowed, as if sucking on a sweet, and the smell of pear drops that emanated from his breath appeared to confirm this. In one fluid movement, the body went from sitting to standing and then peering straight down his nose to Walter.

‘Well, Augustus,’ he said his voice patronisingly slow. ‘What have you done this time?’

 

~~~~~

Wow!  This extract has certainly left me intrigued.

‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Afterlife-Walter-Augustus-Hannah-Lynn-ebook/dp/B07CLL98QC/ref=pd_sbs_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=BMK2ZGD0YFDY3D39PP2N

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Afterlife-Walter-Augustus-Hannah-Lynn-ebook/dp/B07CLL98QC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Giveaway

To coincide with this blog tour, Hannah Lynn is running a competition.  These are the  prizes:-

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, plus an eBook copy of ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’.

1 of 5 x paperback copies of ‘The Afterlife of Walter Augustus’, signed by Hannah Lynn.

To enter, click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway.

 

About Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn was born in 1984 and grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Her first novel, Amendments, was published in 2015, her latest novel, The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, is out July 2018. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HMLynnauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HannahLynnAuthor

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13830772.Hannah_M_Lynn

 

Other Books

‘Amendments’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amendments-H-M-Lynn-ebook/dp/B00W1X95S2

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amendments-H-M-Lynn-ebook/dp/B00W1X95S2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Summer Scandal’ by Kat French ~ @AvonBooksUK @KFrenchBooks

‘A Summer Scandal’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 28th June 2018 by Avon Books.  I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Sabah Khan for inviting me to participate.

I have an extract from the book for you which will hopefully leave you wanting to read more.  First though, here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

A Summer Scandal

A feel-good summer romance guaranteed to make you laugh out loud!

Summer has never been so scandalous…

When Violet moves to Swallow Beach, she inherits a small Victorian pier with an empty arcade perched on the end of it, and falls in love immediately. She wants nothing more than to rejuvenate it and make it grand again – but how?

When she meets hunky Calvin, inspiration strikes. What if she turned the arcade into an adult-themed arcade full of artisan shops?

Not everyone in the town is happy with the idea, but Violet loves her arcade and business begins to boom. But as tensions worsen and the heat between her and Calvin begins to grow, life at Swallow Beach becomes tricky. Is it worth staying to ride out the storm? And can Violet find her own happy ending before the swallows fly south for the winter?

Sexy, sassy and full of heart, Kat French is back in a new summer sizzler.

 

Extract

After an afternoon spent arranging her temporary workspace and a rather unglamorous dinner of cheese on toast, Violet decided to call it quits and have an early night. She’d called her mum, replied to a text from Simon and tomorrow she planned to get stuck into her next work order. Her whole world seemed to have flipped on its axis since she’d received the letter from her grandpa; she found the idea of getting her teeth into work familiar and soothing.

Turning out the lights, she headed for the bathroom to brush her teeth, and then paused, surprised by the sight of a note pushed underneath her door.

Being neighbourly. Here’s my mobile number in case you hear anything go bump in the night. Or run out of milk. Or you’re lonely. C x

He’d scrawled his number underneath in the same confident script as his words. Violet couldn’t help but smile as she read it twice over, then put it down beside the old telephone. Cal seemed to live his life with his finger permanently on the humour button; given that everything else around her seemed deep and confusing, he was a tonic. She’d heard him go out earlier in the evening, and found the top floor a lonelier place without him across the hall. He wasn’t the quietest of neighbours. In fact earlier he’d been making quite a racket at times, hammering and sanding by the sound of it. Perhaps he was a DIY fan.

After a moment’s hesitation, she went back into the living room and ripped a page out of her notepad, scrawling on it before opening her front door and making a PJ-clad dash across to Cal’s apartment. Her heart hammered in case he came back while she was out there, but all was quiet.

She paused as she passed the huge landing window looking down over the bay. It was gorgeous by night, creamy street lamps dotted along the seafront, the darkness of the sea glinting beneath the clear moon. She could just about make out the shadow of the pier, a spindled outline. Her feelings for it were already strengthening, especially since finding her name painted there out over the waves. How special. How wondrous, really, as if the past was reaching out and welcoming her to Swallow Beach, asking her to safeguard Monica’s memories. She would. Vi didn’t yet know exactly what she was going to do with the pier, or even if she’d stay here for more than a summer, but she wasn’t leaving until the pier was open again. The intention settled on her shoulders as she stood with her palm flat against the window.

‘I’m here now,’ she whispered. ‘I’m here and I’ll take care of you.’

There would be no compulsory purchase order on Violet’s watch. The people of Swallow Beach may well have felt that the pier belonged to them, but the truth was that it belonged to Violet now, and to Monica before her. She really hoped that the townspeople would be glad of her presence in the bay, but if they weren’t … Vi wasn’t a girl accustomed to trouble, but looking out over the pier in that quiet, reflective moment, she resolved that she wasn’t going to be pushed around. It was too important.

~~~~~

‘A Summer Scandal’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Scandal-Kat-French-ebook/dp/B078B1Q1LG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531646110&sr=1-1&keywords=a+summer+scandal+by+kat+french

 

About Kat French

Kat writes romantic comedy for HarperCollins. She lives in England with her husband, two little boys and two crazy cats. She loves all things romance – reading it, watching it, and most of all, writing it. Mildly addicted to wine and fairy lights.

 

Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Kat-French-472044706183507/?ref=br_rs

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KFrenchBooks

 

Guest Post by Julie Shackman ~ @G13Julie @AllenAndUnwin

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the lovely Julie Shackman back to my blog.  Her new book ‘A Room at the Manor’ was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 27th June 2018 by Allen & Unwin.  I remember when Julie first revealed the cover of her new book on social media.  I fell in love with it instantly.  It is absolutely gorgeous and I could literally sit and admire it all day long.

Julie has written a guest post for my blog all about the cover.  First though, let’s take a look at what ‘A Room at the Manor’ is all about.

 

Book Blurb

When her Maltese love affair turns sour, Lara McDonald returns to her quiet Scottish hometown of Fairview heartbroken, yet determined – instead of looking for another PR position, she decides to follow her dream of baking. She impulsively takes the first job offered and finds herself working for local dragon Kitty Walker in her tea room, True Brew.

Lara’s life is full of surprises, however, not the least being an unlikely friendship forged with one of Kitty’s elderly customers, the former laird Hugo Carmichael. The Carmichael family has lived at the beautiful Glenlovatt Manor for almost three hundred years and, although in need of renovation, Hugo, his son and grandson currently make it their home.

There’s something about Lara that Hugo likes, and when Hugo suddenly passes away, Lara is stunned to discover she is mentioned in his will. But not everyone is happy with the old Laird’s faith in Lara.

A story of love, family, hope and trust, A Room at the Manor will delight every reader keen to find their place in the world.

 

Guest Post

“Cover Story” – Julie Shackman

Seeing the cover of your latest book for the first time is a moment you never forget.

My first two novels were published digitally and each time, this was a lovely experience.

But with A Room at the Manor, this is my first traditionally published book and I think this has made the whole journey an extra special one.

The last year has been a whirlwind of being signed by my wonderful agent Selwa, followed by my novel being accepted for publication by Allen & Unwin.

Several rounds of editing and polishing followed, as well as invaluable and constructive advice and editorial guidance from Selwa, Annette at Allen & Unwin and my very patient and understanding (!) editor Bec.

Then came the day my cover popped into my Inbox.

I remember sitting for a few moments, gazing at the bright colours; the tangle of thistles and the swirls of type face, announcing the title.

It almost didn’t seem real.

When I saw the tea cup and further thistle detail on the back cover – all those finishing little touches – couldn’t have made me more grateful to Romana and the art department at my publishers for their beautiful work.

It amazed me how like my fictional Glenlovatt Manor the house on the cover is, with its buttery stone and grand windows.

A Room at the Manor tells the story of what can be achieved if someone believes in you and how determined Lara is, to make a success of things.

The same can be said for all us writers.

All it takes is for one person to have faith in you and your writing and to say that magic word “Yes.”

Remember – A published writer is an unpublished writer who never gave up.

 

Julie X

 

(A Room at the Manor is released in paperback and Kindle on 27 June. It is available in the UK online at this link https://www.bookdepository.com/Room-at-the-Manor-Julie-Shackman/9781760632861

In Australia & New Zealand, it is also available on-line, as well as in all good bookshops.)

 

About Julie Shackman

Julie had her first two books published digitally by Not So Noble Books. A,Room at the Manor is her first traditionally published novel.

When not reading or writing, Julie loves going for long walks; music; travelling and watching films.

She is married with two teenage sons and lives in Scotland.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/G13Julie

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/julie.shackman

Blog – http://julieshackman.wordpress.com/

 

Blog Blitz – ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ by Morgen Bailey @bombshellpub @morgenwriteruk

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog blitz along with a number of other book bloggers and would like to thank Sarah Hardy for inviting me to participate.  ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ was published in paperback and as an eBook yesterday the 12th July 2018 by Bombshell Books and it sounds really good.

I have a guest post by Morgen Bailey, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

31 days. 31 dates.

Izzy is a journalist who usually writes a technology column for a Northampton newspaper. Her somewhat-intimidating boss William sets her the task of dating thirty-one men, via an internet dating site, all within a month, and writing about it for the paper.

Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend Donna, Izzy knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts and starts ticking them off as she meets the men.

Follow the ups and downs of the dating process including Tim ‘the Weeble’, whose date leads Izzy to see banoffee pie in a whole new light, Lawrence the super-skinny social worker, Felix with his bizarre penchant for Persian Piranhas, and ‘the music maestro but don’t talk about dead pets’ Jake.

By the end of the month, will Izzy have met Mr Right?

A laugh-out-loud comedy about the highs and lows of dating.

 

Guest Post

How I got published… (810 words)

I came to writing later than many. I was thirty-seven and a half when I spotted, in a University of Leicester prospectus, an evening creative writing workshop class led by crime writer Sally Spedding (http://sallyspedding.com) which renewed my passion for the craft started at school. That said, Sally also nearly killed it by pulling apart one of my (fairly dreadful) poems, but the homework was to write a crime short story and it was very much the proverbial light bulb moment.

Sticking with short stories, I submitted a page of sixty-worders to Woman’s Weekly and they published the first one. Yay, my mum could finally tell her friends – and probably everyone else she met – that I was a published author. I thought the magazine was then going to publish the rest, one by one, so I bought the following issue, only to find they’d shelved the sixty-word slot. Over the next few months, other magazines that had run short stories also stopped doing them: Bella, Best, Chat, Woman, Woman’s Own to name a few.

So I turned my attention to competitions. I entered a few with varying levels of success, gratefully printing off the congratulations emails and certificates, as well as the commiserations (although most don’t reply so you just have to assume) for my ‘rejections’ folder which by this time was outgrowing my ‘successes’.

I only ever planned to be a short story writer but as most people know, it’s easier (as if it’s ever easy) to make a living as a novelist. I couldn’t envisage spending a year though – as I’d heard the average being – on one story but then I discovered NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org), the yearly (November) 50,000+ words in a month project. I ‘had a go’ in 2008, with a comic crime, which was just over the minimum, which I self-published in 2016 as Hitman Sam. I enjoyed it so wrote another, After Jessica, between January and October the following year (most of it actually in the final month!) before writing my epic women’s fiction novel, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, in November 2009 which ended up being 115,640 words (in twenty-eight of the thirty-one days!). Because I had to write 50,000+ words in a month, I didn’t want anything too ‘heavy’ and it was a fun write (and hope it’s a fun read). Of course that’s when the hard work starts, the beloved editing process.

Since then, ‘life’ has again intruded so I’m much slower but I have two completed, for which I’m looking for homes, and have planned or part written others – including the follow-up to The Serial Dater. I’ve also written and self-published eight eBook collections of short stories for, or inspired by, the thirty-one short stories in a month that is Story a Day May (http://storyaday.org), which I’ve since combined into two paperback books.

So yes, I’m the classic example of a ten-year overnight success, although I’m still working on that final word. Some writers do it for the money but most because they love it. Isaac Asimov is quoted as saying, “I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die” which is somewhat dramatic but ‘they’ say that when you find something you love doing, that it’s never work. Although it feels like it is much of the time, as it leaves little time for writing, I do count myself very lucky.

Other than creating our characters, it can be a very lonely experience. I like being solo though but it’s usually tumbleweed when you self-publish so, at a friend’s suggestion, we co-founded Northants Authors (www.northantsauthors.com) to help fellow local writers promote their books. We do a variety of events and it all helps the ‘profile’.

I’ve interviewed or spotlighted over 800 authors for my blog and it makes that lonely experience far less so. I ‘found’ Bombshell Books having been recommended as an editor for their parent company, Bloodhound Books, and for Serial Dater it was very much third time lucky (twice). From my blog and writing groups, I’d had offers for Serial Dater from two publishers but after reading the contracts and received feedback from The Society of Authors, I turned them down. Bombshell was my third contract for this book, and having Bloodhound already reject two of my other (crime) novels, this book was my third submitted.

Having gone from self-published to traditionally published, I love the support of the team behind me. It doesn’t stop me self-publishing and won’t do my backlist any harm. While some authors will prefer that route because they get to keep a higher percentage of royalties, given the choice of a high percentage of not a lot and a lower portion of many more, there’s no contest.

How did you get published? Are you still on that journey to your first ‘sale’? Do share your story.

~~~~~

‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Serial-Daters-Shopping-List-comedy-ebook/dp/B07F8VRRYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531166894&sr=1-1&keywords=the+serial+dater%27s+shopping+list

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Serial-Daters-Shopping-List-comedy-ebook/dp/B07F8VRRYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531421027&sr=1-1&keywords=the+serial+dater%27s+shopping+list

 

About Morgen Bailey

Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, Writers’ Forum magazine columnist, blogger, speaker, and Northants Authors co-founder. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates, RONE, BeaconLit, BBC Radio 2 and Althorp Literary Festival short story competitions. She also runs her own free monthly 100-word competition and is a forthcoming Flash 500 judge.

 

Links

 

Blog Tour – ‘Gone to Ground’ by Rachel Amphlett ~ #damppebblesblogtours @RachelAmphlett

‘Gone to Ground’, the sixth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, was published in paperback and as an eBook by Saxon Publishing on the 8th July 2018.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Emma Welton of Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to participate.  I have been thoroughly enjoying the Kay Hunter series, though admittedly am a bit behind with it at the moment.

I have a guest post and a giveaway for all of you today.  But first, I am sure you are dying to know what ‘Gone to Ground’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.

 

Guest Post

Getting to know Kay Hunter: on location in Kent

In the lead-up to publication day for book six in the Detective Kay Hunter series, Gone to Ground, I ended up back in the UK for a few weeks.

In mid-May, I attended CrimeFest in Bristol where, two years ago, I’d been a delegate on the Indie Alternative panel. It was great to catch up with friends and hear writing heroes chat about their new books over the four days, as well as support fellow indies who were ably moderated by hostess extraordinaire, Zoe Sharp. Then there were the opportunities to meet people for the first time who I’d only previously corresponded with on social media, and a lot of laughter ensued.

There’s something very special about the crime fiction community – despite the fact we kill people for a living 🙂

Towards the end of my UK trip, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Kay Hunter’s stomping ground – Maidstone, Kent. Although I had commitments at author events, I was able to spend some time in between these visiting the locations that appear in the series and re-familiarise myself with Kay’s surroundings.

Whether it was visiting our old local pub in Weavering or mooching along by the riverbank where I imagine Kay and Barnes escape from the mania of the busy incident room, I felt a renewed energy for the series, and an excitement borne from new ideas that began to form as I took in all the sights of the county town and Kentish countryside – always with a notebook and camera to hand.

Sometimes, it was an overheard conversation that caught my imagination – I’d forgotten what the Maidstone accent sounds like – or watching people interact and thinking “what if?” and, of course, there are different scents and smells associated with a busy riverside town.

A lot of redevelopment work has taken place since I lived on the outskirts of Maidstone 13 years ago, but the familiar routes I remembered and captured within the first six books in the series remain and continue to inspire me.

Oh, and those traffic jams that the team have to fight through to get anywhere in a hurry?

Still there.

 

Competition

One lucky person has the chance to win a ‘Gone to Ground’ coffee mug.  To enter just leave a comment.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th July 2018.

The winner will be chosen at random and notified.  Their details will be passed on to Emma Welton.

Good luck! 🙂

 

About Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Her novels are available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats from worldwide retailers including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

A keen traveller, Rachel holds both EU and Australian passports and can usually be found plotting her next trip two years in advance!

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelAmphlett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelamphlett.author/

Website: https://www.rachelamphlett.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rachel-Amphlett/e/B005EK7TRI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1528972893&sr=8-1

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gone-Ground-Detective-Hunter-thriller/dp/0648235572/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528972946&sr=1-1&keywords=gone+to+ground+rachel+amphlett

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Gone-Ground-Detective-Hunter-Thriller/dp/0648235572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528972990&sr=8-1&keywords=gone+to+ground+rachel

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/gone-to-ground/rachel-amphlett/9780648235576

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Gone-Ground-Rachel-Amphlett/9780648235576

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Two: Summer Secrets’ by Emily Harvale ~ @rararesources @emilyharvale

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Two: Summer Secrets’ was published as an eBook by Crescent Gate Publishing on the 11th June 2018.   Having taken part in the blog tour for the first part of this serial last month, I am absolutely thrilled to be participating in this one too.  I would like to thank the lovely Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join in with this tour.  My thanks also for my review copy of this book.

You will find out what I thought about it in a minute, but first the important bit.

 

Book Blurb

Escape to the seaside village of Little Pondale with Part Two of this heart-warming and romantic, four-part serial.

Mia Ward was amazed to inherit her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda. She was even more astonished to discover she’d only inherit the place if she lives there for a year.

Now Mia and her friends, Ella and Garrick are embracing village life. Garrick’s also embracing someone in The Frog and Lily, so Mia turns her attention to one or two of her sexy, single neighbours. But great-aunt Matilda remains an enigma and Mia’s still determined to discover who she was.

When Mia’s mum, Lori arrives, she’s eager to see what the summer has to offer. There’s the Kite Festival, the Fête, the Frog Hill Run, but what really appeals to Lori, much to Mia’s horror, is the Midsummer Night’s naked bathing in the pond at Frog’s Hollow.

As sweltering days surrender to sultry nights, love is definitely in the air. And when an incident means Mia has to face her greatest fear, help arrives from a surprising source. But one thing is clear… someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale…

 

My Review

I loved the first part of ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane’ so much that I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the next instalment. Emily Harvale is a truly wonderful writer and I wish I had discovered her books much earlier. I really like her style of writing and how she paints a good picture of what life is like in a small village.

It was nice catching up with Mia, Ella and Garrick. It was like meeting up with old friends after a few weeks of not seeing or hearing from them at all. I loved Mia’s mum, Lori. She was an absolute hoot.

I thought that there was a lot packed into this novella. I enjoyed reading about the various annual events. They were a good way of bringing everyone together. I also learnt a lot more about the villagers and got a few shocks and surprises along the way as well. There were certainly some strange happenings too. I can only think that someone in the village likes playing practical jokes or maybe they actually do want Mia to leave. I can’t work out who would do such a thing though. That for now remains a total mystery.

This series is getting more and more interesting and I am really looking forward to the next part as I can’t wait to find out what is in store. Mia definitely has some decisions to make and they aren’t going to be easy ones either.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Two: Summer Secrets’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DDL5KCR

You can read my review of ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Land – Part One: New Beginnings’ here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/blog-tour-the-cottage-on-lily-pond-lane-part-1-new-beginnings-by-emily-harvale-rararesources-emilyharvale/

 

About Emily Harvale

 

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happy endings.” When she isn’t 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.

 

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/emilyharvalewriter

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/emilyharvale

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/emilyharvale

 

~~~~~

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Three: Autumn Leaves’ is out on the 10th July 2018.

 

Book Blurb

Escape to the seaside village of Little Pondale with Part Three of this heart-warming and romantic, four-part serial. 

Mia Ward was amazed to inherit her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda. She was equally astonished to discover she’d only inherit the place if she lives there for a year.

But it didn’t take long for Mia and her friends, Ella and Garrick to settle in. Now Mia’s mum, Lori has joined them, and they’re all enjoying village life. Mia’s keen to overcome her fear of water and with Garrick by her side, she’s confident about the future.

Until a fortune teller’s predictions give everyone cause for concern. Now Mia’s not so sure of anything, except that someone still wants her to leave. That makes her more determined to learn all she can about Matilda – and the codicil.

But as the mists roll in over the sea, are autumn winds making passions cool? And when more than one unexpected visitor gives Mia a shocking surprise, is everything about to change?

You can pre-order Part Three from Amazon UK:-

 

Blog Tour – ‘Corrupted’ by Simon Michael ~ #LoveBooksGroup @urbanebooks @simonmichaeluk

‘Corrupted’ is the fourth book in the Charles Holborne series.  It was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 21st June 2018 by Urbane Publications.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today and would like to thank Love Books Group for inviting me to participate.

I have a wonderful guest post from Simon Michael.  First though here’s what ‘Corrupted’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Corrupted is the fourth book in the Charles Holborne thriller series, and Simon Michael’s follow up to the bestselling The Lighterman.

Charles is building his reputation as a brilliant murder trial lawyer and living the good life with partner Sally. But he can’t escape the influences and dangers of the past, and finds himself drawn once more into the orbit of the notorious Kray twins.

It’s not long before Charles is courting scandal and threats to his very life when investigating a sex ring that involves not just the Krays and the Mafia, but goes to the very echelons of the country’s power.

Simon Michael brings the past back to life across a beautifully rendered swinging 60s landscape, and delivers a gripping piece of thriller fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

 

Guest Post

A SEX SCANDAL … A MURDER … AND A COVER UP

ANOTHER VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL

 

THE GANGSTER

THE LABOUR MP

THE TORY HOME SECRETARY

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TORY LORD

THE CAT BURGLAR

THE PRIME MINISTER IN WAITING

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Establishment cover-up of the sexual shenanigans of high-profile figures. Who are we talking about this time – Jeremy Thorpe MP? Cyril Smith MP?

If you’ve read any of the Charles Holborne crime thrillers you will know that the 1960s and 1970s were the “Wild West” of British justice. Gangs like the Krays, the Richardsons and the Messina brothers carved their territories with firebombs, razors and shooters, vying for control of the proceeds of London’s prostitution, pornography, protection money and illegal gambling. And departments of the Metropolitan Police such as the Sweeney and the Dirty Squad (Obscene Publications Squad) were almost institutionally corrupt; they skimmed profits, protected the villains and fitted up and verballed innocent men. It wasn’t until 1978, the start of Operation Countryman, that the clean-up of the Met began, and it took well over a decade before most of the bent coppers had been thrown out or imprisoned.

That’s why this period is a goldmine to a crime writer, especially one like myself who spent decades on the inside of the criminal justice system and who saw first-hand just how corrupt and dysfunctional it was. All I needed to do was put an honest but flawed brief in the centre of all this; a brief with “a past” and a single-minded drive to pursue justice at any cost; incorporate details of cases in which I was instructed; mix well; and watch the sparks fly.

While the first three books in the series have generally followed Charlie, and his complicated and dangerous relationship with the Krays, through the early 1960s, in Corrupted I stumbled across an astonishing event that took place during the summer of 1964. It involved not only the usual mix of professional gangsters and bent policeman but also senior members of the Conservative government and of the opposition Labour Party. It led to the Home Secretary putting pressure on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to lie about an ongoing investigation; it led to a planted question in the House of Lords; it led to huge libel damages being wrung out of a national newspaper for printing what was, essentially, a true story. Most importantly, it led to the Krays becoming untouchable by the police for several years, during which time their reign of violent criminality continued and two men were murdered. It is a scandal that is well-documented but not well-known, and started with Ronnie Kray’s gay sex parties and its high-profile guests.

Corrupted is a violent crime thriller; it’s a “whodunnit” and it’s a “whydoneit”; but it is also a political thriller, one of enormous current resonance, and it seems to have struck a chord: “Crackles with tension” “instantly classic” “jaw-dropping suspense-filled” “old-school espionage with elegance” “A truly awesome thriller”.

Corrupted is published by Urbane Publications.

 

About Simon Michael

During Simon Michael’s years of practice at the Bar he has prosecuted and defended enough murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy to provide him with a lifetime of true crime stories. The Charles Holborne thriller series is set in the dangerous gangland streets of 1960s London. Simon currently lives in London.

 

Links

‘Corrupted’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corrupted-gripping-Charles-Holborne-thriller-ebook/dp/B07CRC1GX6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528636178&sr=1-2&keywords=Corrupted

 

Website:          www.simonmichael.uk

Facebook:        www.facebook.com/simonmichael.uk

Twitter:           www.twitter.com/simonmichaeluk

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – June 2018 ~ @LMMilford

I really hope you have been enjoying Lynne Milford’s monthly guest posts.  Lynne won my Twitter competition last year to feature on my blog for a year and so far things seem to be going well.

This month Lynne has decided to do something different.  Having talked about her debut novel, ‘A Deadly Rejection’, she thought it would be nice for you to be able to read an extract from it.  I think it’s a brilliant idea myself.  She is also giving away 1 of 5 x signed paperback copies of her book.  How nice is that!  I really hope you enjoy the extract.

 

Extract

Chapter 1

 It was the smell that drew the spaniel to the clearing. She loved anything dirty and smelly; the smellier the better, in fact. She didn’t even mind being hosed down by her owner when they got home, as long as it wasn’t too cold. It was worth it.

The long grass and brambles crunched under her paws as she leapt through the undergrowth. Coppin Woods was her favourite place for a walk. She paused a moment, sensitive nose twitching as she sniffed the air. Yes, it was definitely getting stronger. She wasn’t entirely sure what it was but that wasn’t important.

She could hear her owner calling her name, but she carried on running.

When she found the clearing, she stopped stock-still and began to bark; a warning bark rather than the joy of spotting a rabbit. By the time her owner caught up to her, she’d circled the car with the engine running and the hosepipe running from the exhaust into the car through an open and duct-taped window. She’d scampered back to the edge of the clearing whimpering. This wasn’t what she’d been expecting.

The smell of car fumes was drifting all around the clearing. She watched as her owner rushed forward and tugged at the door handle of the car. She barked a warning and ran to his side, but he pushed her away. The door wouldn’t open and, finding a rock on the ground, her owner smashed the car window. Coughing, he leaned inside and switched off the engine. Flicking open the door lock, he dragged the driver from the car and laid him on the ground.

‘Can’t tell if he’s breathing,’ he muttered, pulling out his mobile phone. The skin on the driver’s face was burned and blackened, as were his hands.

Soon an ambulance, fire engine and police car were pulling up at the end of the track that led to the clearing. The paramedics ran to the clearing, carrying their heavy equipment, but after a short examination, they were shaking their heads.

‘Gone, never stood a chance,’ said one.

‘I’ll never understand why they do it,’ replied the other.

‘Peaceful, I suppose,’ remarked the police sergeant who had just joined them.

The spaniel was twitching and pulling at her lead while her owner spoke to the police officer. She no longer thought that smell was interesting. She wanted to go home.

 

Competition

If you liked A Deadly Rejection so far, there are five copies up for grabs. Just comment in the box below by 6th July 2018 and I’ll pick five names at random.  Good Luck!  Please note this competition is open to UK residents only.

 

~~~~~

A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-march-2018/

Fourth guest post (April 2018) – Why you should write a series

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-april-2018/

Fifth guest post (May 2018)  What I do when I’m not writing

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-may-2018/

 

Blog Tour – ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ by Patricia Caliskan ~ @SapereBooks @Caliskaniverse_

‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ is being published as an eBook and in paperback on the 28th June 2018 by Sapere Books.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank the lovely Caoimhe O’Brien for inviting me to take part.  This sounds like such a fun book.

I have something very special for all of you today.  First off an extract and, wait for it, a chance to win 1 of 3 x copies of this book.  Before all that though here’s what ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Brown-eyed, brunette, 25.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home. Likes loaded silences, resentment and insomnia. Dislikes romantic weekends, lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.

Until she met Dan. Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.

But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.

Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.

But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…

Girlfriend, Interrupted will have you laughing-out-loud, gasping in embarrassment and rooting for Ella all the way.

 

Extract

Chapter One: Capital Punishment

It hadn’t occurred to me that the love of my life would turn out to be somebody else’s dad. If I’d thought about it long enough I’d have realized, the best thing that happened to me ended up being the worst thing that happened to Dan’s kids. Well, at least since the divorce anyway. And, if it was any consolation to them, I got a second-hand romance. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d look out for in a dating profile:

 

Brown-eyed, brunette, 26.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home.

Likes loaded silences, festering resentment and insomnia.

Dislikes romantic weekends, sexy lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

 

But, as with all great love affairs, it hadn’t started out that way. Those two, very separate worlds had slowly collided. We never really talked about what that meant. I mean, how could a man love you if his children didn’t even like you? You’ve probably already guessed, but that was exactly the question I’d been trying to avoid lately as I made my way into the office Friday morning. Only a few hours ahead of being utterly useless around the children for yet another weekend. Although, I thought, glancing over at reception, it was a far better option than falling in love with somebody else’s husband…

‘I am going to leave her, Karen!’ Harry Collins, Head of Digital, was leaning over the reception desk. ‘I promise I will, but it’s not that easy. I’ve got three children to think —’ He flinched at my footsteps. ‘So, those er … those staples? We’ll need at least another two boxes up there…’

Suddenly scrutinizing her to-do list, Karen-From-Reception, all blow-dry and diamante earrings, rearranged her cardigan. Scribbling everything down with a professionalism bordering on the provocative.

‘And those A5 notebooks, please, like we said.’ He pretended he’d only just noticed me. ‘Not the A4.’ He raised a hand. ‘Ah, morning Ella!’

‘Morning, Karen. Harry…’

The three of us exchanged polite smiles as I carried on towards the stairs, avoiding the lift in case I ended up stuck in there with him.

Steen & Heard Communications was located on the second floor of a listed building on Hanover Street. Sunlight streaked through the blinds as I fixed my jacket onto my chair and opened my first email of the day:

 

URGENT!

FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

ACCOUNT DATA FOR PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS!!!

 

This was a typical greeting from Heather Constantine, Public Relations Manager extraordinaire. I’d found the best way to deal with her emails was to pretend they were computer-generated by a machine too primitive to know any better. Although, the ‘Read Receipt’ she included on every message was particularly annoying. Especially when she sat close enough to accept my offer of a Smint without leaving her seat.

I glanced over at her, peering behind her bifocals. Her short, sharp, red hair, hinting at her short, sharp disposition. She scrutinised her screen, searching out juicy worms of commission fit for the taking. First thing in the morning, her lack of hello, eye contact, please or thank you, had the same effect as having a jug of iced water poured over your head. In fact, I’d have chosen the ice bucket challenge every time.

Heather Constantine was the reason I dreamt about being sacked the way other people dreamt about winning the lottery.

Initially, I had worked for James Steen (who was really posh and semi-retired, which is what really posh people aged around sixty seemed to do), and his partner, Audrey Heard, as a copywriter. I was initially hired to write press releases, manage website copy, oversee editorial pieces for our clients, that kind of thing. But within weeks, Heather made me into her unofficial personal assistant and psychological punch bag. Nowadays, I took care of her admin, weekly diary and, on one occasion, a furious outbreak of cystitis, rather than becoming some kind of capable business protégé to her wise mentor-figure, the way Audrey seemed to think it worked.

‘Morning, Ella!’

Leah, Office Support, walked in behind Harry. Her neon-painted grin brightened the shadow of Heather, looming permanently over the rest of our day.

‘Morning, Heather…’

The typing continued.

Leah hung up her coat and straightened her skirt.

‘Would you like a cup of tea, Heather?’

Heather glanced at her watch.

‘Ten minutes ago. I trust you’ll be deducting the time from your lunch hour?’

I gave Leah a sympathetic look. Heather classed five-past-nine as unforgivably late. The only time she’d left the office for anything other than a meeting was when she gave birth to her son.

‘Would you like a coffee, Ella?’

‘I’d love one, please.’ I was deliberately perky. I hoped Heather might pick up on more pleasant ways to interact with other human beings. ‘Thanks for asking. Hey, Leah — we made it! No matter what happens, they’ll never take Friday away from us…’

‘Make sure you use my almond milk.’ Heather’s fingernails clawed at high-speed across her keyboard.

Almond milk? I’d never heard of it. I wondered if they made it especially for people like Heather, who must have problems with turning the regular stuff sour.

‘Will do.’ Leah smiled, not wasting another minute. She paused briefly at Harry’s desk to take his order as he fired up multiple screens on the digital bank.

Harry headed up a team of three almost identical lads. They all wore beards, checked shirts and sprayed-on jeans. As far as I knew none of them had any interest in harvesting trees, but you’d’ve sworn they’d just trekked back from an Alaskan Lumberjack convention. Either that or been knitted as a matching set by someone’s well-meaning grandma. I’d tried striking up conversation with them in the past, but they only communicated in instant messages. And, while the rest of us lived on the stuff, none of them drank tea or coffee, even though it was the lingua franca of our offices. Maybe there’d been some sort of technological advancement, I thought. Apple had launched the iRefreshment while the rest of us still stood around, boiling the kettle.

‘Is almond milk good for you?’

Heather caught my eye, standing to unlock her filing cabinet.

‘Well, obviously.’ She inhaled a laugh, combing through an assortment of colour-coded files. ‘I wouldn’t be drinking it if it were bad for me, now would I?’

I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make a joke or not.

I’d never learned to speak fluent Dictator.

‘It’s vegan friendly. Cholesterol and lactose-free. Those things are bad for you,’ she explained as if talking to a three-year-old. ‘So, yes. It is.’

She shut the metal drawer with a thunk!

Heather was vegan? I was surprised. You’d have imagined most vegans being quite nice to the people they worked with, considering they were so kind to animals.

‘Good morning!’

All heads turned as Audrey Steen, lady boss and agency owner, walked in, looking chic as ever. All curled lashes and nude lip gloss. Wearing my favourite outfit of hers, the grey trilby and pastel pink trench combo.

Audrey was utterly fabulous. One of those gorgeous, older ladies who crystal and diamonds cried out for, rustling up timeless glamour every morning.

‘How’s everything going, Heather?’ She cast a brief smile of hello my way. ‘Apollo doing well?’

If we hadn’t already worked out Heather had a messiah complex, she’d humbly named her first-born after a Greek god.

‘He’s doing brilliantly.’

‘Good to hear it. Did I tell you Peter’s wife’s expecting in the next few weeks?’

‘You must be thrilled.’ Heather still managed to look glacial despite the baby talk.

I’d tried mentioning Dan’s kids, Grace and Ethan, to Heather once. She’d looked at me as if I’d been clipping my toenails at my desk. I’d decided to drop the topic indefinitely.

‘We are. We are.’ Audrey smiled. ‘Listen, we really must have that catch-up. I’ve been meaning to put some time aside, see where we’re up to.’

‘Everything’s back on track.’ Heather squinted at Audrey with what I think was meant to be a smile, unless the sun was in her eyes. ‘I’d like to schedule in a meeting with you today if that’s convenient, Audrey? Four o’clock?’

‘Right-o!’ Audrey said. ‘Well, nothing pressing springs to mind…’

‘Ella?’ Heather rearranged her desk. ‘Could you update my diary?’

‘Of course, Heather.’ I wished I could schedule her in for a routine personality transplant while I was at it.

‘And, by the way.’ Audrey took off her hat, running her fingers through her perfect hair. ‘It’s great to have you back, Heather. Oh.’ She glanced at Leah’s desk then looked my way. ‘Have I missed the first brew of the morning?’

‘Coffee?’

‘Please. Do you mind? I’m always in need of a complete transfusion by the end of the week.’

I noticed a faint sneer from Heather as I walked past her desk, possibly because I wasn’t taking IMMEDIATE ACTION on compiling her account data. Instead, I made my way into the staff kitchen and found Leah standing against the counter, mobile in hand.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘I’m fine.’ She put her phone inside her pocket and took a teaspoon from the drawer. Then stopped, eyes flooding. ‘I split up with my boyfriend.’

‘Oh. That’s not good.’

‘But then we got back together.’

‘And that’s bad?’

‘He’s just messaged saying he thinks we should leave it tonight. And.’ She checked her reflection in the mirror. ‘I just can’t handle Heather today. Urgh.’ She wiped inkblots of mascara from the corners of her eyes. ‘I missed the early train, doing my makeup. Now it’s ruined and I’m not even seeing him…’

‘Here.’ I grabbed another cup for Audrey. ‘You go and get yourself fixed up. I’ll finish the drinks.’

‘You sure?’

The kettle clicked to a halt as I busied myself at the counter.

‘Thanks, Ella. Oh.’ She paused on her way to the door. ‘Make sure you use her special milk, whatever you do. Heather’s almond milk’s in there. Bottom shelf. She’s labelled it.’

Of course she has, I thought. Even though everyone else in the office shared the same two-litre carton, it obviously wasn’t good enough for the Constantine constitution. Almond milk. I stared at the weird, peachy liquid. It didn’t look all that bad, but it definitely smelled a bit funny. Sod it. If Heather was going to stress us all out, the least she could do was lower our Cholesterol. I gave us all a free sample.

Back at my desk I found another email lying in wait to sabotage my happiness:

 

URGENT: FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

Re: SUBJECT HEADING.

Re: Previous email: Account data for previous 12 months!!!

 

I couldn’t help but look over again.

Not a flicker.

Working with Heather was like catching a virus. You started slightly off-colour and ended up wanting to crawl under the covers, slayed by a highly contagious case of her utter misery. I found the files on the system and opened a new document. It was so bad that the thought of meeting mum for lunch formed an emergency raft in my mind that saw me safely through to half-past twelve.

 

Competition

I really hope you enjoyed the extract.  Now for the competition.

Sapere Books are kindly giving away 1 of 3 x eBook copies of ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you thought of the extract and why you want to read this book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd July 2018.

The winners will be chosen at random within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to Caoimhe O’Brien of Sapere Books.

 

About Patricia Caliskan

Following a childhood spent writing her first books, most notably, Our Book about Jesus – a self-help guide for fellow young Catholics, and, The Sleepover – a compelling tale of a midnight feast, shockingly intercepted by fictitious parents with badly drawn hands, Patricia Caliskan always liked to play with words.

Patricia first saw her name misspelt in print aged 17, interviewing hungover rock stars and illegible actors for an Arts and Entertainment magazine. After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Patricia joined Trinity Mirror Newsgroup, working as editor across a portfolio of lifestyle magazine titles.

Patricia likes a good pair of boots, wearing perfume with her pyjamas, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Because without it life feels far too grown up for her liking. Told with mischievous humour, Patricia’s stories explore family dynamics, office politics, and the divergent roles of women throughout their lives.

Girlfriend, Interrupted is Patricia’s second novel: her first, Awful by Comparison, will be reissued by Sapere Books this summer.

 

Links

The eBook of ‘Girlfriend, Interrupted’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZVC2YF?tag=geolinker-21

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Girlfriend-Interrupted-twenty-something-mother-two-ebook/dp/B07BZVC2YF/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530001026&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=girlfriend%2C+interrupted&psc=1

 

Patricia Caliskan can be contacted via:-

Website – https://patriciacaliskanauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Caliskaniverse_

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/patriciacaliskanauthor/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15574926.Patricia_Caliskan

 

Guest Post by Sandra Danby ~ @SandraDanby

I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Sandra Danby back to my blog.  Her new book, ‘Connectedness’, the second in the Identity Detective series was published in paperback in April by Beulah Press and is also available as an eBook.

Sandra has written a guest post about how PD James influenced her work.

 

The influence of PD James

I’ve been a fan of PD James’ detective Adam Dalgliesh since I was a student and having gone back to the beginning to read Cover Her Face, I then bought each book as it was published. I don’t write crime fiction and never expected the Dalgliesh series to have such an influence on my own work but once I decided my identity detective Rose Haldane deserved her own series, I looked again at the structure used by PD James.

The key thing I learned was that each Dalgliesh novel tells the story of a murder and the people involved. Adam Dalgliesh gets involved once the murder is discovered but it is not his story, he is the conduit through which the story is told. This was an epiphany for me. Once I applied it to my own ideas for the ‘Identity Detective’ series, I could see it would work. Ignoring Gravity, the first, tells the story of journalist Rose Haldane, an adult who discovers she was adopted as a baby and was lied to all her life by her family, and her subsequent search for her true origins. Connectedness, my latest novel, is about Justine Tree, a birth mother now in her fifties who longs to find the baby daughter she gave away in the Eighties. Justine employs Rose as a kind of researcher to find her daughter. In the course of this book, Rose realizes she is good at this type of work, that she can become a detective of identities. I’m now writing Sweet Joy, third in the series, in which Rose is employed by an elderly lady to identify her parents who abandoned her in a house during The Blitz in London 1940.

Flash backwards to my writing group friends and the first time they read the complete manuscript of Connectedness. They were familiar with the story and characters, having read most of the chapters in isolation. But why, they asked, don’t you start with Rose? Because, I said, Connectedness is not about Rose; it’s about Justine. Worried I’d misjudged, I went back to a chapter-by-chapter analysis I did almost ten years ago of Original Sin, ninth in the Adam Dalgliesh series. He appears briefly in Chapter 4 when the body has been found – twenty five pages in – but his next viewpoint chapter is almost a third of the way through the book. Instead James patiently allows the story to unfold, told by the characters involved in the murder so the reader makes assumptions about what has happened and comes to know the characters involved. When Dalgliesh arrives on the scene however, he starts asking awkward questions so making the reader doubt his first impressions of people and events. And in this way, the mystery grows. I hope I’ve achieved a similar effect with Connectedness.

 

About ‘Connectedness’

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.

 

About the ‘Identity Detective’ series

Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.

 

About Sandra Danby

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.

 

Author Links

‘Connectedness’ at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z

‘Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd

Author website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Twitter: @SandraDanby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

 

Photos [all © Sandra Danby unless otherwise stated]:-

Author jpeg

CN cover jpeg

PD James – photo Murdo Macleod for The Guardian

PD James on Sandra’s bookshelf

Original Sin by PD James – Sandra’s own copy

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part 1: New Beginnings’ by Emily Harvale ~ @rararesources @emilyharvale

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part 1: New Beginnings’ was published as an eBook by Crescent Gate Publishing on the 10th May 2018.  I was invited by Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources to take part in this tour.  I would like to thank both the author and Rachel for my review copy of this book.

You will find out my thoughts in a minute, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Mia Ward is amazed to be told she has inherited her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda.

She’s even more astonished to discover she’ll only inherit the place if she actually lives there for one year. Mia’s a city girl at heart, not to mention she’s afraid of water, so the fact the cottage backs on to a sandy beach, is not, in her opinion, a bonus.

But Mia’s struggling to pay her rent since being fired for inappropriate behaviour at the office party, and her boyfriend’s also dumped her. When her best friend, Ella and Ella’s brother, Garrick offer to help her move and settle in, Mia decides to see this as a new beginning.

It may also be the start of an exciting adventure because now Mia wants to know just who, exactly, was great-aunt Matilda. And she’s determined to find out. But it soon becomes clear that someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale….

 

My Review

I have mentioned it before but I am really not good at reading serials in parts, preferring instead to read the book in one go. However, ‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane’ appealed to me and I wanted to give it a go. My opinion now that I’ve finished the first part? I’m so very glad that I did. For me, this is actually the first book I have read by Emily Harvale.

This was such a light-hearted and delightful read. There were some really hilarious moments too. I loved the descriptions of the cottage Mia was going to live in. It sounded wonderful and I found myself wishing I could live there as well. It might have been a bit too quiet for me though, but who knows. They say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, that was certainly the case for Mia. Having lost her job she was struggling to pay her rent, so the opportunity to live in the cottage really did come at the right time. I can’t wait to find out if Mia manages to live there for a whole year.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the villagers of Little Pondale and I can’t wait to catch up with them again. I really liked Ella and her brother Garrick. Who knows, maybe their lives could change for the better too. I also can’t wait to find out more about Matilda.

I am really looking forward to the second part and I definitely plan to read more of Emily Harvale’s books. If you are looking for a nice relaxing read then I really recommend trying out this serial.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part 1: New Beginnings’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CQQ1YJ5

 

About Emily Harvale

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happy endings.” When she isn’t 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.

 

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/emilyharvalewriter

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/emilyharvale

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/emilyharvale

 

~~~~~

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part 2: Summer Secrets’ is out now.  Here is what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

Escape to the seaside village of Little Pondale with Part Two of this heart-warming and romantic, four-part serial.

Mia Ward was amazed to inherit her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda. She was even more astonished to discover she’d only inherit the place if she lives there for a year.

Now Mia and her friends, Ella and Garrick are embracing village life. Garrick’s also embracing someone in The Frog and Lily, so Mia turns her attention to one or two of her sexy, single neighbours. But great-aunt Matilda remains an enigma and Mia’s still determined to discover who she was.

When Mia’s mum, Lori arrives, she’s eager to see what the summer has to offer. There’s the Kite Festival, the Fête, the Frog Hill Run, but what really appeals to Lori, much to Mia’s horror, is the Midsummer Night’s naked bathing in the pond at Frog’s Hollow.

As sweltering days surrender to sultry nights, love is definitely in the air. And when an incident means Mia has to face her greatest fear, help arrives from a surprising source. But one thing is clear… someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale…

 

‘The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part 2: Summer Secrets’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

http://newbook.at/LilyPondSummer

 

Blog Blitz – ‘A Dead American In Paris’ by Seth Lynch ~ @damppebbles @fahrenheitpress @SethALynch

‘A Dead American In Paris’, the second book in the Salazar Mysteries series was published in paperback on the 9th April 2018 by Fahrenheit Press and is also available as an eBook.  I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog blitz today along with two fellow book bloggers.  I would like to thank the lovely Emma Welton of damppebbles.com for inviting me to take part.  Thank you also to the publisher and Emma for my review copy.

You will find out in a bit what I thought about this book.  First though here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

Paris. 1931.

Arty Homebrook lived and died in a world of sleaze which stretched from Chicago to Paris but never beyond the gutter.

He’d been sleeping with Madame Fulton, which is why Harry Fulton promised to kill him. So far as the Paris Police are concerned it’s an open and shut case. Harry’s father has other ideas and hires Salazar to investigate.

As Salazar gets to grips with the case he’s dragged reluctantly into an unpleasant underworld of infidelity, blackmail, backstreet abortions and murder.

Salazar is far too inquisitive to walk away and far too stubborn to know what’s for the best. So he wakes up each hungover morning, blinks into the sunlight, and presses on until it’s his life on the line. Then he presses on some more, just for the hell of it.

 

My Review

I haven’t actually read the first book in the Salazar Mysteries series, but this really didn’t spoil things for me, although I did wonder about one or two things. ‘A Dead American In Paris’ can definitely be read as a standalone novel. I really liked the way this story was set out and the author’s style of writing was great. The chapters aren’t numbered but they are very clearly marked so you know what the date is.

This story takes place in Paris over ten days and in that time a lot happens. Salazar has been hired by Fulton Senior whose son has been arrested, accused of murdering Homebrook. Whilst investigating Salazar gets far more than he bargained for. Although not squeamish some of what he came across was too much even for him. It’s no wonder he drank. The author has described in great detail the gruesome scenes giving the reader a good picture. Luckily they didn’t put me off.

As Salazar makes enquiries he discovers that Homebrook really wasn’t a very nice person. It’s no wonder that someone killed him and it seems that many people would have had a good reason to.

At times I did think to myself why can’t that be emailed over to Salazar instead of posted, only to remember that it was when there was no such thing as the internet or mobile phones. I was left a bit aghast by the ending but could see why Salazar did what he did.

‘A Dead American in Paris’ is fast-paced and gripping and I do recommend it to fans of crime fiction. Would I read more books by this author? Definitely.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Seth Lynch

Born and brought up in the West of England, Seth has also lived in Carcassonne, Zurich and the Isle of Man.

With two daughters, his writing time is the period spent in cafés as the girls do gym, dance and drama lessons.

 

Seth’s Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SethALynch

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seth-Lynch/e/B00E7SZ3FS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sethlynchauthor/

 

Buy Seth Lynch’s book direct from Fahrenheit Press:

A Citizen of Nowhere (Salazar Book 1): http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_a_citizen_of_nowhere.html

A Dead American in Paris (Salazar Book 2): http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_a_dead_american_in_paris.html

The Paris Ripper (Chief Inspector Belmont Book 1): http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_the_paris_ripper.html

 

The Guernsey Novels Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be helping to kick off this blog tour, along with TripFiction, Chat About Books and Breaks.com.  I would like to thank The Globeflower Agency for inviting me to take part.  I have read and reviewed a couple of Anne Allen’s previous books and her latest one really was fabulous.

You are all in for a treat because not only do I have a guest post from Anne Allen herself, but there is also a fantastic competition being run throughout this tour.

 

Guest Post

Anne’s Idyllic Childhood Holidays Inspired Her Love of The Sea

Anne Allen was born and raised in landlocked Rugby. However, she recollects the magical summer holidays she spent with her Welsh grandparents in Rhosneigr, Anglesey.

“Thanks to the wonderful summer holidays I spent in Rhosneigr, I have developed a life-long passion for the sea,” Anne says.

“The sea is definitely in my blood and has shaped my life.”

Anne’s grandparents ran the main village shop in Rhosneigr, back then it was called Empire Stores. They sold grocery produce, fresh fish and shellfish, including lobster.

Whilst visiting her grandparents, Anne and her sister slept in a little attic room which they accessed via a step ladder. Their room had a window looking over the road and down to the beach.

“As we spent the majority of our year, in landlocked Rugby. Our summer holidays in Rhosneigr were magical and we had adventures like the characters out of Enid Blyton books.

“We would spend most of our days on the beautiful beach with our buckets and spades digging up the masses of golden sand.”

Anne’s father taught her how to fish for perch in the local lake, Llyn Maelog, on the edge of the village.

“We went in the early evening but we rarely caught anything. However, I enjoyed spending quality time with my father.”

Anne’s happy childhood memories of being beside the seaside in Anglesey, led her to spend a lifetime of trying to get close to the sea and eventually inspired her writing career. She continued living in landlocked Rugby until tragedy struck and changed her life forever.

“Whilst in my mid-thirties, my husband died and I was left to raise three young children on my own.

“During my grieving period, I craved to be beside the sea again.

“We initially moved to Devon. However, I then visited Guernsey and it’s golden sands reminded me of my childhood holidays in Rhosneigr.

“Craving a fresh start, I sold my house and moved to Guernsey!”

She initially tried to buy a small guest-house in St Peter Port to use as a residential health centre. However, the deal fell through shortly after they arrived on the island with her car laden with all their belongings.

“I was devastated, but looking back I can see it was just as well, for at the time interest rates were sky high and financially it would have been difficult.”

Initially, life on the island was not plain sailing, as a non-local she had to live ‘Open Market’ which was both restrictive and expensive. Anne set up her own psychotherapy practice on the island and began to build up a number of regular and loyal clients. With their support, she was eventually able to get a housing licence. Anne and her children created many happy memories on the island.

“One friend had a boat and we would go out for fun trips with our children, mooring up in one of the lovely south coast bays. The boys would jump into the sea and splash around while us girls lay decorously on deck to top up our tans.”

Anne never envisaged leaving Guernsey, however, life threw her some curve balls, and she eventually moved back to Devon. She had always craved creativity, yet, never found the time due to being a busy working mum of three children. When they flew the nest, she eagerly put pen to paper and drafted her first novel, Dangerous Waters. A few months later, she was encouraged to enter a true-life writing competition in Prima magazine and was surprised when she won. This helped to boost her confidence and encouraged her to publish her first novel.

The novel was awarded Silver (Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012. Since then she has published five more books in The Guernsey Novels series.

 

About Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea.

Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there’s more time to write and Anne has now published six books in The Guernsey Novels series. She will be publishing her seventh novel later in the year.

To find out more about Anne visit her website: you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Competition

 

Win a two-night break

courtesy of The Guernsey Novels by Anne Allen

Would you like to visit gorgeous Guernsey? Well, here is your chance to win a two-night trip to this beautiful island, courtesy of Anne Allen, author of the riveting book series, The Guernsey Novels.

The Guernsey Novels

Anne Allen’s fascinating book series, The Guernsey Novels, comprises six standalone novels. All the stories in her novel series, take place predominantly on the island of Guernsey and are linked by characters popping up from one book to another.

They provide an ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, so far, over 6 years. Each book is standalone with fresh new lead characters with their own links to the German Occupation during World War 2, having an impact on the present.

The Guernsey Novels are a mix of mystery, family drama, and love story and influenced by the author’s love of the island where she spent many happy years. Guernsey itself is always a main character in the books, offering a gorgeous backdrop to all the sorrows, joys and tragedies she describes.

The Guernsey Novels are available from all leading bookstores:

Book #1 Dangerous Waters

Book #2 Finding Mother

Book #3 Guernsey Retreat

Book #4 The Family Divided

Book #5 Echoes of Time

Book #6 The Betrayal

 

Enter the prize draw to win a two-night break at Hotel Ziggurat in Guernsey

Enter The Guernsey Novels Prize Draw https://js.gleam.io/e.js

Read more details about the prize draw, including the Terms and Conditions on Anne Allen’s Website

 

Blog Tour Organised by The Globeflower Agency Ltd

The Globeflower Agenc

 

Blog Blitz – ‘A Garden in Cornwall’ by Laura Briggs

Happy publication day to Laura Briggs whose new novella, ‘A Garden in Cornwall’, the twelfth and final novella in the A Wedding in Cornwall series is out today.

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog blitz which was organised by the lovely Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources.  I have a guest post for all of you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

With their lives exactly what they’ve always dreamed, Matt and Julianne await the arrival of the third member of their family — but their happiness is threatened when their landlady Mathilda announces her intention to sell their beloved Rosemoor Cottage for an impossible value. Devastated, Julianne struggles to accept the cold reality of her and Matt making their home elsewhere.

Matt’s life has taken a new turn as he finally puts aside his academic work to pursue his gardening hobby as a career: his first new job as a landscape designer involves neglected Penwill Hall’s ‘lost’ garden — one with a truly romantic Cornish past. But the task of restoring its legendary beauty from nearly seventy years ago proves difficult among the ruins lost in weeds and wilderness.

With notions of secret gardens and wartime stories echoing in her thoughts, Julianne is determined to help Matt and the estate’s new owner after the discovery of a hidden mural in the hall itself, depicting a breathtaking garden that may well be the lost one. Her efforts to uncover the past lead her to a curmudgeonly local gardener who just may hold the knowledge that would restore the ‘lost garden’ to its former glory. Will Julianne’s quest help her find a way to deal with losing the home she loves?

Hellos and farewells abound as Dinah returns to lend a helping hand at Cliffs House and Julianne relives her favourite memories of her and Matt’s beloved cottage in Book Twelve — the final instalment in the bestselling series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL.

‘A Garden in Cornwall’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2IUC9AY

Amazon US – http://smarturl.it/agardenincornwall

 

Guest Post

I would like to thank Sonya for inviting me to share about my writing with all her readers at A Lover of Books!

Two years ago when I penned the novella called A Wedding in Cornwall, I had no idea how readers would respond. After all, I’m an American author whose never set foot on Cornish land in her life and has mostly the internet and PBS airings of Poldark and Doc Martin to help them picture its beauty as a literary setting. But those breathtaking cliffs and images of water breaking on the rocky shore were just too good to resist. So in the end, my heroine, an American wedding planner named Julianne, took the leap ‘across the Pond’ to work at a beautiful Cornish manor house…and twelve novellas later, I’m happy to say it has been a fantastic experience.

Readers in the UK have overwhelmed me with their support for Julianne’s world. Overlooking the cultural inaccuracies (and I fear there are many, many of them), they have embraced its tiny fictional village and its characters, returning again and again for each new adventure. From a holiday ball to a baking competition, a royal wedding, and even a talent show, they have followed Julianne and her friends with a level of enthusiasm I never anticipated. Their reviews are a joy to read, especially those who know and love Cornwall and feel the series has a special meaning for them as a result. One reader even remarked that it inspired them to revisit that very county after many years—a truly lovely sentiment to hear as an author hoping to pay tribute to the place they’re writing about.

Now, as the story draws to a close with the bittersweet A Garden in Cornwall, I look forward to sharing new projects, including another Cornish-based romance series for 2019. A different heroine discovering Cornwall under very different circumstances than Julianne, but I very much hope that readers will enjoy these new characters and adventures.  I’ll be releasing details on Book One and the series as a whole throughout the year, including title and cover reveal, story synopsis, and special excerpts from the manuscript’s rough draft. I’m very excited for readers to meet these new characters (especially the dreamy hero!) over the next few months.

And I’m not forgetting those who enjoy the excitement of the wedding planning world. In fact, this summer will launch the first book in a new wedding-themed series I’m writing for the UK publisher Bookouture. I can’t wait for readers to meet its trio of plucky heroines as they navigate their own romantic troubles while making sure their client has a picture-perfect big day.

To be notified of all my new book releases, readers should be sure to follow my Amazon author page here: http://author.to/briggsauthorpage

 

Giveaway

Win an e-copy of A Garden In Cornwall (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click on the link to enter http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949487/?

 

About Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several lighthearted romance novels and novellas, including the bestselling Amazon UK series A Wedding in Cornwall. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, and trying new restaurants.

 

Social Media Links

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurabriggs/   

Twitter:        https://twitter.com/PaperDollWrites

 

Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post – May 2018

It’s time for Lynne Milford’s monthly guest post.  I really look forward to receiving her posts and this month’s is really interesting.

 

What I do when I’m not writing

When Sonya offered me this opportunity I asked a friend what she, as a reader, would want to know about writers. She replied ‘what you do with your spare time?’. I laughed and said ‘Writing’. And it’s true, I do spend a lot of my free time writing. But once I’d thought about it, I do other things as well. So, here’s how I spend my time when I’m not writing (although whatever I’m doing I’m probably also still thinking about writing or feeling guilty for not writing).

Exercise

This is a tough one for writers because we spend a lot of time sitting in a chair. Add into that my day job – which involves sitting down at a computer – and I recently ended up in a whole lot of trouble. My favourite exercises are running and Pilates. The former helps me blow of a bit of steam, the latter helps my poor sore chair body. By strengthening and stretching out my muscles at Pilates I keep my body mobile and protect it from the aches and pains associated with spending time sitting down. Going running helps clear your head and (hopefully) balances the effect of snacking while buried in your writing.

Cooking/baking

I make no bones – I love food. I also find cooking and baking relaxing. In fact, I broke my recent writing blockage by making scones. There’s something creative and yet distracting about cooking that appeals to my brain. The only problem being that I have to eat what I’ve baked or cooked and that’s where the running also comes in!

Watching TV

I could lie to you and say this is in the name of research. I spend a lot of time watching crime drama or thrillers so I am learning about plot and structure. But really I find it to be good down time. Watching TV doesn’t need as much brain power as reading does and it’s a break away from my phone/tablet/laptop. Generally speaking my telly watching is quite targeted. Most of what I watch is recorded so I can watch when it’s convenient for me. This means if I do decide to write in the evenings I don’t miss out on anything.

Reading

I should really include this in writing activities but I find reading very relaxing. Yes up to a point this is research for writing – reading other people’s work helps you learn how to write – but with a really good book you find that you’re not analysing you’re just reading. My favourite book for that is Tell No One by Harlan Coven. What could be better than losing yourself in a different world and with different people.

Going on holiday

Ok this only happens a couple of times a year but a week or two away from home, preferably somewhere hot and sunny, is great for recharging the batteries. It’s a chance to exercise, read and chill out while letting someone else cook your dinner and bring you a beer. It gets me away from work, and mostly from writing as well. The first couple of days are usually affected by guilt for not writing, but after that I start to unwind and forget about anything but relaxing (and where I’m going to have dinner – see, obsessed with food!).

And of course into all these things – and the most important – is spending time with my boyfriend. I couldn’t manage without him and he doesn’t mind too much when writing takes over.

So that’s what my life revolves around on a regular basis. I don’t always manage to fit them all in, after all writing takes priority especially at weekends, but they’re my way of stepping away from the fictional world and into the real one.

 

A Deadly Rejection is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. UK address is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB

Catch up with me on Twitter @lmmilford or visit my website www.lmmilford.wordpress.com

 

Previous Guest Posts

First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Second guest post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post/

Third guest post (March 2018) – Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-march-2018/

Fourth guest post (April 2018) – Why you should write a series

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lynne-milfords-aka-lm-milfords-monthly-guest-post-april-2018/

 

Blog Tour – ‘Songs of Innocence’ by Anne Coates

‘Songs of Innocence’, the third book in the Hannah Weybridge series, was published on the 24th May 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Urbane Publications.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Love Books Group for inviting me to participate.  I would also like to say thank you for my review copy.

I will tell you what I thought of this book in a minute, but first here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

A woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.

The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.

The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest – assignment yet…

 

My Review

Having really enjoyed the first two books in the series, I was looking forward to reading ‘Songs of Innocence’. I soon found myself hooked. I loved the author’s descriptions of Peckham Rye Park and I felt as if I was there with all the lovely birds. The mandarin ducks are indeed beautiful. Another thing I really like is how the characters from the previous books keep appearing. It is like visiting old friends again and again.

When the body of a young woman who has apparently committed suicide is discovered in a lake in Peckham Rye Park, things just don’t add up. The last thing Hannah needs or wants is to get herself involved in another investigation, but it doesn’t look like she has very much choice. She soon makes some shocking discoveries. At one point I really thought that was it for Hannah and I feared for her life. It would be absolutely awful if something happened to her.

I was left extremely intrigued at the end wondering about Tom Jordan and Hannah and if they have a future together. I want to know what’s going to happen now!

Out of all three books, ‘Songs of Innocence’ is by far my favourite. Anne Coates has really excelled herself. It is obvious that she does her research. I would definitely recommend that you start at the beginning to get the full benefit of this series, especially as one of the main storylines from ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ continues in this one. I really hope there are going to be more books and that I don’t have to wait too long.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Songs of Innocence’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Songs-Innocence-Hannah-Weybridge-Coates/dp/191133154X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1527335332&sr=2

 

About Anne Coates

Reading and writing has been Anne Coates’ passion for as long as she can remember. Instilled and inspired by her mother and by the Deputy Head at her secondary school who encouraged her hunger for reading by granting her free access to the books not yet in the school library, and she feels still grateful for this, in her eyes, amazing privilege.

After her degree in English and French, Anne moved to London to stay. During her career she worked for publishers, as a journalist, writer, editor, and translator. The birth of her daughter, Olivia inspired her to write non-fiction books, such as ‘Your Only Child’ (Bloomsbury, 1996), books about applying to and surviving university (NeedtoKnow, 2013), but also short stories, tales with a twist, and stories exploring relationships, published in two collections by Endeavour Press (2015).

The sometimes strange places Anne visited as a journalist often made her think “What if…” And so, investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge was born… The Hannah Weybridge series currently consists of three books, all published by Urbane Publications: ‘Dancers in the Wind’ (2016), ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ (2017), and ‘Songs of Innocence’ (2018).

Anne Coates lives in London with three demanding cats and enjoys reading, going to the theatre and cinema, wining and dining.

Where to find Anne Coates
Author Website: www.annecoatesauthor.com
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnneCoatesAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anne_Coates1
Parenting Website – Twitter: https://twitter.com/ParentingWT

 

Book Review – ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ by Anne Coates

I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Anne Coates’ new book, ‘Songs of Innocence’.  Realising that I still needed to read ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’, which was published last year by Urbane Publications, this prompted me to do so.  I know that in many cases some books in a series can be read as standalone novels, but I wasn’t sure if this was the case with this one.

You will find out in a bit what I thought of ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’.  First though, here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

Death’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole.

 

My Review

I bought my copy of ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ at Anne Coates’ book launch last year. I’m so very glad that I decided to read this book first. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was kept on tenterhooks.

Set in January 1994 onwards, the story starts off in The Crypt of St John’s Church where Hannah’s friend Liz has been brutally murdered. Anne Coates actually held her book launch in The Crypt which made it easy for me to picture the scene. Hannah really is an amazing person. You would think after what happened to her she would want to lie low and not get involved in other murders, especially as she has a young daughter. But at the end of the day Liz was her friend and she wasn’t going to let things go so easily. Good for her I say.

I mentioned it in my review of ‘Dancers in the Wind’, but I really do like how this author writes about issues that are to this day are still happening around the world. It reminds you of the suffering caused to millions of people and it certainly makes me very grateful for the life I have. This story dealt with child trafficking and it didn’t make for very pretty reading at all.

‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ is an exciting and thought-provoking story. You will feel that you have actually learnt something from it.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-Silent-Judgement-thrilling-Weybridge-ebook/dp/B06ZXXCR29/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1527327945&sr=1-1&keywords=death%27s+silent+judgement

 

If you want a taster of ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ you can read an extract here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/extract-from-deaths-silent-judgement-by-anne-coates/

 

About Anne Coates

For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, Anne has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind and Death’s Silent Judgement began with a real event followed by a ‘what if …’; That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love. Songs of Innocence will publish summer 2018.

 

Links

Author Website: http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anne_Coates1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnneCoatesAuthor/

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Old You’ by Louise Voss

‘The Old You’ was published in paperback on the 15th May 2018 by Orenda Books.  It is also available as an eBook.  I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.  Thank you also for my review copy of this book.

You will find out exactly what I thought about ‘The Old You’ in a minute. First though, here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.

But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

 

My Review

I read and reviewed one of Louise Voss’s novels a while and knew what a good writer she was. I was delighted when I found out that Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books was going to publish her next book. That was like the best news ever.

Oh My God! ‘The Old You’ literally took me for a long ride and it was absolutely fantastic. I loved the style of writing and the way the story flashed back to Lynn’s past. I found myself lulled into a sense of security only for it to be cruelly shattered in the space of a few minutes. All that I believed to be true wasn’t. It seemed that I couldn’t trust the majority of the characters. Even at the end of the story I was fooled.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters apart from Lynn. I felt bad for her and Ed. It seemed to me that his dementia was deteriorating quickly and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what was in store for them. But as I was about to find out, something just didn’t add up.

‘The Old You’ is a gripping story full of twists and turns. It will grab you by the neck and won’t let you go until the very end. This book should hopefully appeal to all fans of psychological thrillers.

I really can’t wait to read this author’s next book.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Old You’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Old-You-Louise-Voss-ebook/dp/B078GZQH56/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1526726826&sr=1-1

 

About Louise Voss

 

Louise Voss has been writing for the past eighteen years, with many twists and turns in her career. She started her publishing life with four novels for Transworld/Black Swan, the first of which, To Be Someone, was published in 2001 with its own CD soundtrack. This was followed by three more contemporary women’s fiction novels, Are You My Mother? Lifesaver, and Games People Play, until she switched to publishing thrillers with Mark Edwards.

She and Mark were the first British indie authors to reach No.1 on the Amazon charts with Catch Your Death, where they stayed for the month of June 2011, with their novel Killing Cupid also at No. 2. This led to a four-book deal with Harper Collins; then two books in the DI Lennon series, From the Cradle and The Blissfully Dead (Thomas & Mercer).

Her first solo thriller was The Venus Trap in 2015 and her second, a twisty tale of domestic noir, is out in May 2018: The Old You, published by @OrendaBooks.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LouiseVoss1

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/louisevossauthor/

 

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Street Orphans’ by Mary Wood

Having totally loved Mary Wood’s previous novel, I am over the moon to be taking part in this blog tour.  ‘The Street Orphans’ was published yesterday the 17th May 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Pan Books.  I am so looking forward to reading this book.

I have something very special for all of you today.  Yes, you can exclusively read the first chapter of ‘The Street Orphans’.  First though, here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

The Street Orphans is an emotional story set in 1850s Lancashire, from Mary Wood, the author of In Their Mother’s Footsteps and Brighter Days Ahead.

Born with a club foot in a remote village in the Pennines, Ruth is feared and ridiculed by her superstitious neighbours who see her affliction as a sign of witchcraft. When her father is killed in an accident and her family evicted from their cottage, she hopes to leave her old life behind, to start afresh in the Blackburn cotton mills. But tragedy strikes once again, setting in motion a chain of events that will unravel her family’s lives.

Their fate is in the hands of the Earl of Harrogate, and his betrothed, Lady Katrina. But more sinister is the scheming Marcia, Lady Katrina’s jealous sister. Impossible dreams beset Ruth from the moment she meets the Earl. Dreams that lead her to hope that he will save her from the terrible fate that awaits those accused of witchcraft. Dreams that one day her destiny and the Earl’s will be entwined.

 

Extract

1

Ruth Dovecote

 

A Shattered Family

‘Eeh, Ruth, will you hurry yourself ? It’s nigh on nightfall and we’ve to find shelter.’

‘Ma, I can’t. You go on. I’ll rest awhile and catch up later. Leave a message at the inn when you find somewhere  to bed down, so that I know where to find you.’ Shouting her answer to her ma sapped more of her strength than Ruth could spare, as she battled against the strong, bitter January wind that whistled around the mountainous hills of Bowland.

Ruth’s one good leg wobbled. Thinking she was going to topple over, she leaned heavily on her crutch. Her underarm burned as the crutch rasped against her armpit. Despair threatened  to  engulf  her.  The  weight  of  her  club  foot seemed to become heavier with every mile they walked – and they had trundled many miles these last days.

Turned out of their tied cottage on a remote farm within days of their da taking his last breath, Ruth, her ma and her four siblings had now reached the narrow high-peak road of Lythe Fell on their way to Blackburn.

It had been an accident that had taken their da. A strong man, he’d been to market in the nearby small town of Pradley, which lay topside of Slaidburn, north of the Forest of Bowland. He’d stopped at an old well on the edge of the town to haul up a bucket of water for the old horse pulling his cart. The sides of the well had collapsed, taking him thirty feet into the ground. He’d been in freezing-cold water up to his neck for two days before the rescue workers brought him to the surface. With many bones broken and pneumonia setting in, he’d stood little chance.

Their da’s boss, a rich landowner, hadn’t considered the grief that her ma and Ruth and her siblings were suffering, or the plight the family would now be in. Within an hour of Da dying, the agent for the estate had served notice on them to quit their cottage and had ordered them to leave within twenty-four hours of the funeral. They had no money and had been left with just the clothes they stood up in, plus an old pram. The undertaker had taken everything they owned, in payment for their da’s burial.

Ma had a cousin in Blackburn who she thought might help them. When she’d last heard from him, two years since, he’d told her how the town was flourishing with the rise of the cotton-mill industry. This held the hope that Ma and the lads and Amy could get taken on at one of the mills. Ruth’s task would be to care for them all and look after Elsie. It all sounded good, if very different from the life they had led so far, and Ruth wasn’t without her worries as to how it would all work out. But she knew they would never be able to find the kind of work on the land that they were used to. Farm work paid little to the menfolk, and nothing for the labour of women and young ’uns, who were expected to work as part of the deal to gain a cottage with the job.

They had taken few rests as they walked during the day-light hours in the unforgiving weather conditions, and had had to keep to the highway, because of Ruth’s difficulties. The road was little more than a track, and it stretched their journey by many more miles than going over the top would have done. At night they had huddled together and bedded down amongst the bracken.

By nightfall this day they hoped to reach Clitheroe, as Ma thought it was within ten miles now. There, they planned to beg some shelter and food, as the last of the bread and preserves  that Ma had packed  for their trip had run out the night before. Hunger and cold slowed their progress – Ruth’s more than that of the others, as her affliction, already a hindrance to her, worsened with the effort of walking such a long distance.

Looking up, she saw that her ma was three hundred yards ahead of her. Behind her ma trailed her sister, Amy, her curly hair frizzed even more than usual by the way the wind had played with it. Amy hated it and thought Ruth lucky to have long, dark hair. Amy’s wouldn’t grow long; it became too tangled and Ma had to cut it. It reminded Ruth of a bowl of soapsuds all bubbled up, and though Amy wouldn’t have it, it set off her pretty face and huge dark eyes. At fifteen years of age, Amy was younger than Ruth by three years. No one would take her and Amy for sisters, if they didn’t know them to be. There was nothing about them that resembled the other.

Amy held the hand of four-year-old Elsie, a delicate child, who was slow to learn new skills. Seth, fourteen and a bit, and ten months younger than Amy, and George, just nine months younger than Seth, were up in front. Seth pushed the pram that had carried them all as bairns, and which was still needed for Elsie as she tired easily.

Two handsome lads, Seth and George looked very much alike and had the same appearance as Ruth, with their dark complexions, black hair and shining blue eyes. They were different in character, though. Seth had a gentle nature and preferred to reason problems out rather than argue his point. He tended to be shy and rarely put himself forward. George, though quick to lose his temper with people, had a wonder- ful way with animals; in contrast to his short fuse, he also had a good sense of humour and at times was so funny with his antics that he’d have you wetting yourself.

The  five  of  them  were  the  only  survivors  of  the  ten children Ma had birthed; one of these children, and two miscarriages, accounted for the gap in age between Ruth and her first three siblings. Twin boys and another two girls had died between George’s birth and Elsie’s. Ruth had helped at the delivery of all of them, from Amy down, and still felt the pain of their loss.

‘By, lass, I can’t go on without you. I—’ The howl of the wind took away Ma’s words as she stepped  off the grass verge to walk back towards Ruth.

Ruth opened her mouth to urge her ma to go on once more, but fear changed  what she was about to say. ‘Ma! Look out, Ma!’

The coach had come from nowhere. The horses reared. Ma cowered. Her body fell to the ground. The hooves of the startled animals  pounded down on her.  The screams of terrified children and the whinnying of the stallions filled the space around Ruth. Her own scream strangled in her throat. Horror held her as if she’d been turned to stone, but then desperation moved her body and urged her forward.

‘Ma . . . Naw, Ma!’

All around her went into slow motion, and it seemed she had to claw her way through invisible barriers as she tried to hasten. When at last she neared them, the horses swayed. Their hooves lost their grip on the muddied road and the carriage went onto its left wheel, before banging down onto its right. The violent motion catapulted the driver from his seat and over the cliff. His holler held the knowledge of his own imminent death. The carriage didn’t right itself, and the crashing and splintering of its wooden structure drowned out the sound of the desperate driver.

A face appeared at the window of what was left of the carriage: a lad, his hair curled tightly to his head, his eyes holding a look of terror. Mud splattered Ruth as one of the horses tried to keep its grip, but the animal lost the battle and slid over the edge, pulling the coach almost upside down. The face disappeared. The three horses remaining on sturdy ground reared against the weight of the one dangling below. Steam rushed from their nostrils. The whites of their eyes glared their own terror and compounded Ruth’s horror. Finding her voice, she shouted orders. ‘Amy, come and help me. Seth, George, get Ma away.’

Leaning her weight onto her crutch, Ruth stretched her body to enable her to reach the handle of the door.  It resisted her pulling it open. ‘Amy, climb up. See if anyone is alive.’

‘But, our ma? Eeh, Ruth, Ma’s—’

‘Leave Ma to the lads. They’ll take care of her. We must help those in the carriage afore it goes over the edge. Hurry, lass.’ Ruth’s heart didn’t encourage her to take these actions – it wanted her to go to her ma – but something in her knew it was already too late and, if she didn’t help the occupants of the carriage, it would be so for them, too.

‘Get up, Amy, lass, go on. That’s reet. Can you see if anyone’s alive?’

‘Aye,  there  is, Ruth.  A young  man,  but  I’m  not  sure about the lady. She looks dead. She – she’s bleeding from a cut on her head.’

‘Tell the lad to climb out. Tell him!’ Turning, Ruth saw Seth and George standing over the tangled, unmoving body of  their ma.  Her heart clamoured with despair at what she knew to be the truth, but she had to save the lad in the carriage.  She couldn’t  let him die. ‘Seth, George  – here, quick! Amy, come down and let me lean on you. Seth, take me crutch, and you and George climb up with it to the window. Get the young man to take hold of the crutch, then pull him out. Go on, me lads, let sommat good come out of today.’

It didn’t take long to get the young man out, but he’d not let them think they couldn’t save his mother.

‘Please try. Mama is breathing. She is alive!’

‘We can’t. I’m sorry – there’s nowt we can do, as she ain’t able to help us. She’s unconscious.  We wouldn’t manage. It’s impossible.’

‘Do it, or I’ll have you all up for murder, you scum! What were you doing on the highway anyway? You caused this. You should keep yourselves to the bridle paths.’

Ruth felt her anger rising, but common sense stopped her from giving full rein to her temper. What she’d thought of as a lad, because of how small he was, she could now see was a man of around twenty-five years of age. He was in shock and was reacting as all toffs would. Though she needed to take heed of what he said, as he could have them all sent down if he wished – hanged even.

But how could she get the woman out of the swaying cab, with the horses still pulling in all directions, and the whole lot likely to go over the edge of the cliff at any moment?

‘I’ll unleash the horses, Ruth. I knows how to do it. I learned that time when our da’s boss made me work with his stablehand for a while.’

‘But they’ll kick you to death, Seth.’

‘I’ll help.’ George chipping in with this comment offered Ruth some relief from her fear for Seth.  George  would be able to calm the animals. His confidence helped, as he instructed, ‘Come on, Seth, get between the back of the horses and the carriage. I’ll try to soothe them.’

Before the lads could act, the toff spoke. ‘Unleash the one hanging over the side first. It cannot be saved, and its weight is a danger.’

‘Aye, Sir, that is me plan.’ Seth touched the brim of his cap in a mock-salute.

‘“My Lord” – not “Sir”! You are addressing the Earl of Harrogate.’

Ruth clenched her fist. The ungrateful devil! And them with their ma lying dead, not ten feet away. He showed no compassion. Her glance over to her ma’s body showed her the pitiful scene of Amy sobbing and Elsie looking bewil- dered and afraid, her wide eyes staring at the raging horses. Their plight undid Ruth. Hatred for this man, and all he stood for, trembled through her and spat from her before she could stop it: ‘You’re nowt to us. Us “scum” don’t recognize the likes of you toffs. We should have left you to rot in hell!’

His hand sliced her face. His foot kicked her crutch away from her. The mud, though wet and squelchy, didn’t cushion her fall, but slapped hard against her,  knocking the breath from her.

‘You’ll  pay for that, cripple.  You’ll  pay  dearly.’  Rage puffed his face, making  him appear ugly and evil. As he turned from her, his hand went inside his jacket. Ruth’s fear intensified at the sight of the pistol that he now brandished towards her brothers, as they made as if to charge at him. The click of the gun as he cocked it, ready to fire, resounded around Ruth. The Earl’s voice shook with anger and fear.

‘Get back! Get those horses under control – now.’

Ruth knew the threat from the Earl was real. Though she hadn’t seen him load his pistol, he could have done so before starting his journey, as these toffs were always afraid of coming across robbers.  Terrified of what the impetuous George might do, and of the consequences for him, she drew in a painful breath. ‘Naw! George, leave it. Go with Seth, see to the horses.’

George did as she bade him, and within moments his uncanny knack with animals showed in the way they became calm.

Seth freed the dangling horse, but despite the shouted commands of the young man, he didn’t unleash the others; instead he listened to George, who was telling him to leave them, as he wanted to try and drive them forward, to pull the remains of the carriage gradually from the edge and out of danger. Ruth closed her eyes, praying that he would suc- ceed.

The scraping noise told her something was happening. When she dared to look, she saw with relief that George had accomplished what he’d set out to do. But her relief was short-lived, as the searing tragedy of her ma’s plight came to her. Dragging herself along the ground, Ruth reached the grass verge where her ma lay and looked into the unseeing, once-beautiful eyes. ‘Oh, Ma . . . Ma!’

Elsie’s wails penetrated Ruth’s grief. Reaching for her and Amy, she held them close, but the Earl’s voice brought her attention back to what was happening behind her.

‘You there, get over here and help my mother!’

Picking up her crutch, the Earl threw it towards her. Ruth crouched over her sisters, afraid the hurtling crutch would hit them, but it sailed right over them. Gathering her wits, she spoke as calmly as she could. ‘Amy, lass, pass me crutch to me and help me up. Don’t be afraid. We’ve to do as he bids. We’ll see to Ma later.’

‘Is – is she . . . ?’

‘Aye, lass. Ma’s gone.’ She said this as though she were talking about something else, as neither her ma’s death, nor the crying of her sisters, touched her in the way it should have done. It was as if she’d been taken out of her own body and put inside one that shielded her from all that could hurt her. But then it had to be so. Somehow she had to be strong for them all.

With Amy’s help, Ruth managed to get up and hobble over to where the Earl’s mother lay on a rug on the ground. It surprised Ruth to see that the lady wasn’t as old as she’d first assumed, and she realized that she must have been very young when she birthed the Earl.

‘Do something!’

Ruth stared down the barrel of the gun, saw the Earl’s finger on the trigger. Sweat dripped off his face.

‘Ruth!’

‘Stay back, George, lad, it’s all right.’

On  George’s  movement  towards  her,  the  Earl  turned swiftly and aimed his gun. ‘Do as she says, urchin.’

Ruth held her breath. George froze. The Earl turned, his gun once more pointing  at Ruth. ‘I’ve heard it said that cripples like you have powers. Well, use them now. The likes of you were hanged for being witches in the past, and still should be, in my opinion.’

‘I’m naw witch, M’Lord.’

‘Oh?  And  you’ll  be telling  me next  that  your  brother there is not a sorcerer, when only such a one could have calmed those horses. I would be within my rights to shoot you all, and have a mind to do so.’ The weak sun, which gave no warmth, reflected on the barrel of the Earl’s gun as he trained it on George. ‘And us within spitting distance of Pendle Hill, where they hanged a whole bunch of your kind a couple of centuries ago.’

His words filled Ruth with the fear of the time when people in Pradley  had whispered about her having evil powers, and that she should be sent away. It had been after one lad had been teasing  her.  Losing her temper, she’d turned on him, telling him no good would come to him. The lad had fallen ill just afterwards and, in his delirium, had screamed her name in terror. The atmosphere had darkened from that day, as many gave her a wide berth. Some even spat in her path. What this man had just said about Pendle Hill deepened her fear. Please, God, save us; save me brothers and our Amy and me little Elsie. Don’t let this devil of a man kill them.

‘Get on with it or they will all die.’

Ruth’s fear turned to terror, as she saw the gun was now pointed at Elsie. The child had no concept of the danger she was in, as she ran over to Seth. The movement spooked the Earl. A crack resounded through the valley, echoing off the hills.

Amy screamed. Ruth’s heart banged against her ribs. But then relief flooded through her as she saw that no one was hurt.

The Earl smiled as he reloaded his gun. ‘Just to show you that I mean what I say.’

Bending over as best she could, Ruth touched the lady’s forehead. She stirred.

‘See! It is as I said – you are a witch! You only had to touch her and—’

Pushing back her hair, which had come loose from the ribbon Ma had tied in it, Ruth looked up at him and saw him properly  for  the  first  time.  ‘Puny’ was  how  she’d label him. His bones jutted from hollow cheeks, his lips were feminine in their fullness, and she could see that his hair hung  in  false  curls  held  with  pins, some of which had escaped and now looked hideous. The depths of his black eyes held terror for her and, in that moment, she knew she was damned if his mother lived, and yet damned if she didn’t.

The thought came to her that this would be the fate of her sisters and brothers as well. With this, her anger – fuelled by fear for herself and her siblings – caused her to grab her crutch and swing it with all her might. Catching the back of the Earl’s knees, her blow floored him. Lunging  towards him on all fours, Ruth scrambled across him, holding his body down with her weight. Her eyes glimpsed his pistol, now loosened from his grip. Grabbing it, she mustered all her strength and smashed it across his head.

The gaping, bloodied gash on his forehead shocked her back to reality. Gasping for breath, she stared in horror as the Earl’s head rolled to one side, as if independent of his neck. His breath gasped from him in a rasping, gurgling sound. He didn’t draw it back in. Oh God! No. No . . . I’ve killed him!

‘Ruth! God, Ruth, lass, what have you don

‘I didn’t mean to kill him, Seth. I didn’t. I just wanted to knock him out, so we could get away.’

A moan caught their attention. The lady moved her head, but didn’t open her eyes.

‘What’re we going to do?’ Seth’s whisper held tears. His fear spurred Ruth into action. Pulling her crutch towards her and grabbing the piece of ribbon she’d lost from her hair – a precious memento now, as her ma had won it when the fair had visited – she put her hand out to Seth, who helped her up.

A flash of memory  came to her, as she held onto the ribbon – her ma’s words: ‘I’m choosing you over Amy or Elsie for the ribbon, lass, as it will help to keep you cool, to have your hair tied back. Never cut your hair, our lass. It is your crowning glory. Look at it: it reaches your waist. It suits your beautiful oval face and complements  your blue eyes. You need it to distract people from your affliction, and to let folk see as you’re a bonny lass, despite that foot of yours.’

Shaking the tear-jerking recollection from her, Ruth brought her attention back to their current situation. ‘Seth, you and George get the Earl’s body back into the coach. Hurry, afore his ma comes round proper. Put him in a pos- ition that he would likely be in if he’d been killed in the accident. Go on, me lads.’

Hobbling over to the lady, Ruth placed herself between her and the carriage, because although the lady had sunk back into deep unconsciousness once more, Ruth felt afraid that she might still open her eyes and see what they were doing.

‘Amy, lass, bring Elsie to me, and then get sommat to disturb the mud to hide the trail of the lads dragging the body. A stick or something will do.’

‘But, our Ruth, anyone’ll know as he were out of the carriage afore he died. He’ll be covered in mud, and there’s mud on his boots.’

Fear of the truth of what Amy said stopped Ruth in her tracks for a moment. When a solution came to her, she knew George wouldn’t be in favour of it, but their situation was desperate – hers above all, as now the noose would be her certain fate.

‘We have to attach the horses again and drive them over the cliff to take the—’

‘Naw!’

George’s  horrified  gasp  showed  Ruth  the  enormity  of what she’d proposed, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to achieve it.

‘We have to do sommat to cover up what really happened, George. We have to.’

‘I think I knaw what we could do, our Ruth.’

Ruth didn’t dismiss Amy. The lass had a clever brain. She could even read and write, and she’d only had the miller’s lad to teach her what he’d learned in school.

‘We could just push the seating area of the carriage over the edge, with the Earl inside. Then, when he’s found, the state of him will give no clue to him having left the carriage before he died. And it won’t be too heavy for us to shift, now that it is detached from where the trunks are stored. We could say as we’d managed to get the lady out, but then had to unleash the horses as they were in danger of shoving the rest over the cliff. But just as we did so, the lightest part of the carriage went over, with the unconscious man still in it.’

‘Yes, that could have happened. You’re reet, lass. By, Ma allus said as you were the brains of the family, our Amy. Reet, me lads, that’s what we’ll do – just as Amy says – and I can help, if I get me back against it.’

‘Naw, you shield the lady’s view, Ruth, just in case. And mind our Elsie an’ all. Me and the lads’ll manage. We’re strong.’

Ruth did as Amy suggested. She knew her own strength was limited and would more than likely be a hindrance. It wasn’t just her foot that was crippled, as the bottom of her spine also had a curve in it. Though it wasn’t much of one and it didn’t bend her over, unless she was tired, like now, the curvature did cause her pain almost beyond endurance at times. She held Elsie to her, and the crashing sound of the carriage against the rocks undid her. Her body trembled. The dry sockets of her eyes filled with tears as the full impact of their plight hit her. She looked in fear at the lady, but she hadn’t moved. The thought came to her: God, what now? What now?

There was no doubt in Ruth’s mind that they had to take the lady down to Clitheroe and get help for her, but what trouble would that bring down upon them? The fear this caused increased the shaking in her body.

 

~~~~~

Did you enjoy this extract?  If so, ‘The Street Orphans’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Street-Orphans-Mary-Wood-ebook/dp/B0796YKFT6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1526581100&sr=1-1

 

About Mary Wood

Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.

Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.

After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels

Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.

Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.

When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening. One of her favourite pastimes is interacting with her readers.

 

Links

Website – https://www.authormarywood.com/

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