The House in the Hollow by Allie Cresswell @alliescribbler #guestpost #extract #historicalfiction

The House in the Hollow written and self-published by Allie Cresswell is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

Book Blurb

The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.

Once established in le bon ton, Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a brood mare with a great deal of money. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he must go to Europe to fight the French. The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners and studied elegance she finds tittle-tattle, deceit, dissipation and vice.

Jocelyn stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which will mean utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors. There, separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate, she must build her own life—and her own social order—anew.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/32UYCG2

I am so pleased to welcome the author, Allie Cresswell, to my blog today sharing an extract with a brief explanation. Thank you for joining my blog Allie …

The House in the Hollow has as one of its themes the idea of things that are concealed beneath the veneer of Regency respectability. To this end I decided to introduce characters who work for the Talbot family in the capacity of servants; those who, out of sight, make their elegant lifestyle possible. Researching what life was like for Regency servants, and how a large country house functioned with what seems to be smooth and effortless efficiency, was very interesting. Obviously life was much harder for servants than it was for the wealthy and privileged but the tenets of essential morality remained the same, and this included the appalling way that women were victimised for moral lapses whereas men were forgiven. Girls who were compromised by men always got the blame, and had to suffer the consequences alone. This was true for women at all levels of Regency society.

Here a servant girl, Sally, has been found injured and unconscious in the middle of the night by Annie, another maid.

‘You did right to wake me, Annie,’ the housekeeper said, ‘although I wish Miss Nugent had been here. She is more practiced than I. Now we must examine every inch of Sally to see where her injuries are. You begin at the head and I will start at her feet.’

Annie ran her hands carefully over Sally’s skull, feeling for swellings or cuts. Sally’s hair was badly matted and tangled with straw—she would be upset, Annie thought, to have it so. Sally’s one vanity was her lovely, lustrous hair. Annie could feel no contusions, however. She inserted a finger into Sally’s mouth, feeling for loose teeth. One on the left felt spongy but otherwise all were firm. She leant closer and smelled Sally’s breath. Cider.

‘Is she intoxicated?’ she asked Mrs Butterwick. ‘Perhaps she drank too much cider, and fell? She may have hit her face …’

‘I don’t think so,’ Mrs Butterwick said grimly. She had lifted Sally’s wounded knees and now peered up beneath the material of her chemise. ‘There is much swelling here, bleeding and bruising. I think she has been forced.’

‘Forced?’ Annie’s mouth was dry.

‘Yes. A man has forced her.’

Mrs Butterwick turned to Sally’s hands. ‘Her nails are broken. I think she tried to defend herself.’ She felt gently up the length of Sally’s arms. ‘No bones broken, though, and no fever that I can discern.’

Annie thought of Jackie Silver, but did not voice her thought.

‘Her knees,’ Annie said.

‘Yes, she has crawled on them. There is gravel in them that will have to be got out.’

Between them they managed to lift Sally on to Annie’s bed. It was unusual for Annie to see the housekeeper engage in any physical endeavour. Her habit was to direct and supervise and then to confirm that her orders had been carried out. She might sweep a hand over furniture that should have been dusted, pull back a sheet to ensure that a bed had been properly made. But now Annie found Mrs Butterwick quite capable of the lifting and shifting required to settle Sally comfortably, by no means shirking of what needed to be done.

They removed the rest of Sally’s clothes and bathed her body, applying salves to her injuries and packing the place between her legs with some of the rags the girls used for their courses. Mrs Butterwick picked the gravel from Sally’s knees and cleaned them with liniment. Sally winced and whimpered, but did not wake. Annie washed the dirt and crusted blood from Sally’s eye and put a pad of clean material over it. She combed the worst of the straw from her hair. All the time she murmured reassurance although Sally made no sign of being able to hear. If anything the girl looked worse rather than better. Her jaw and cheek became blacker and more bloated as the night went by. She spoke no sensible word. Her good eye was glazed and unfocussed.

‘I fear concussion,’ Mrs Butterwick said, ‘and her jaw may be broken, but I cannot tell.’

They worked in the light of a single candle. Its flame flickered in the draught as they moved about their task, throwing shadows across Sally’s distended features, rendering them even more horrific. Annie’s throat was clogged, tight with anxiety, and tears pressed the backs of her eyes. Beneath her concern lay a ventricle brimming with caustic anger at the man who had done this.

‘Will she live, do you think?’ Annie asked when they had covered Sally with a clean sheet and managed to dribble a little willow bark tea between her poor, swollen lips. They sat either side of the little bed. A greyish glow divided the square of skylight from the gloom of the rest of the room. Above them, in the eaves, the first sparrows began to stir.

‘She will, if there are no injuries that we cannot see. If she is not awake and sensible by morning the surgeon must be called. She has been badly used, that’s clear enough. But Sally’s character speaks against her.’

‘Because she is a flirt?’

Mrs Butterwick nodded. ‘We must hope and pray there is no child. However it is come by, whether Sally be guilty or no, she will be dismissed.’

‘And the man who did this to her? I believe it might have been Mr Silver. I know he has hurt her before. I saw the bruises on her arms. Surely he’ll be sent packing?’

Mrs Butterwick pressed her lips together but did not reply.

About the Author

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.

Social Media Links –

Website – http://www.allie-cresswell.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/
Twitter – @alliescribbler

When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #WhenIComeHomeAgain #bookextract

When I Come Home Again written by Caroline Scott, publisher Simon & Schuster UK, is available NOW in ebook, audiobook and hardcover format.

Book Blurb

They need him to remember. He wants to forget.

1918. 
In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.

The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.

When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?

Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war.

To buy link:

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/when-i-come-home-again-a-beautiful-and-heartbreaking-wwi-novel-based-on-true-events/9781471192173

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Caroline Scott’s latest novel: When I Come Home Again. I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you.

Chapter two extract

‘Name:                   ’

The hairs rise on his forearm and he hugs his knees to his chest. It is cold in the cell. They have taken his clothes away and he feels every breath of air from the window above. His naked body is familiar to him and yet not. He knows his own hands, but he can’t remember the scars on his arms, or the lice bites that cover his body. He scratches the backs of his knees and sees that there is blood on his fingers.

Your name, they said. We need a name. We can’t start without it. You need to give us your name.

It comes back at him again, that insistent question. All through the night. No starting, but no stopping. He would have told them, if he could.

The walls of the cell are blistered with damp. The plaster ripples and glistens. The walls are as pockmarked as his skin and the whitewash comes away on his shoulder when he leans against it. There are scales of lime in the creases of his hands and chalk down his fingernails. Five white condemning crescents. It is the chalk that has put him in this police cell.

Where’s your identity disc? they asked. Your pay book? Your service number?

Looking at the new bruise blooming on his arm makes him ashamed. The constable had walked him through the town with his arms in a grip. It wasn’t so much that it hurt, but he had felt humiliated when the people’s eyes flicked towards him and then away, and chastened by the words that they mouthed. He wanted to tell them that he’d done nothing wrong. He wanted to shout it out. He wanted to tell them that this wasn’t him.

What’s your battalion? What regiment? Where are you stationed?

They had emptied his pockets while the sergeant questioned him. Every item was catalogued and inspected. Every coin was turned over. Every pebble. Every piece of chalk. This scrutiny made him feel as though his pencil stub and box of matches were specimens in a museum requiring labels. But what should their labels be? Could these innocent items condemn him? They told him that they were taking his belt away so that he wouldn’t hang himself.

He watches the silverfish scurry. There are cobwebs in the corners and chains on the wall of the cell. They are crumbling, rusting old chains, the kind prisoners have in storybook dungeons, and he suspects they are there more for warning than purpose. He hears the spyhole in the door click again. They have been doing this all night; coming to look at him, checking on him. Why did they imagine that he might hang himself?

Home address? You must have a home address. You must have come from somewhere.

He tries to remember. He genuinely tries. He recalls the barns and sheds and ditches of the past few weeks, but nothing before that. He slept on a bench in a church porch some days ago. An old woman handed him a bowl of warm milk in the morning. A young cleric gave him a blanket that smelled of laundry soap. He tries to remember what home feels like, what it smells like. It smells of damp and disinfectant and urine in this cell, and the sweat on his own skin.

Place of birth? Date of birth?

‘Born to raise the sons of earth,’ the voice in the next cell crescendos. ‘Born to give them second birth.’ It’s Christmas carols now. The disembodied voice has been singing hymns all night; eight hours of rhyming trials and tribulations, mysteries and mercies, and green hills far away.

It was a desecration of a place of worship, they told him. It was a serious offence. He’d laughed when they said that this was the sort of filthy thing the Germans had done in France.

They told him it didn’t help his case that he laughed. They asked him why he did it. What was he thinking? What made him want to do such a thing? He could only reply that he didn’t know.

Next of kin?

Nothing. He apologized. He could see their frustration. He didn’t want to frustrate them. It wouldn’t do him any good, the sergeant said, if he didn’t speak up, if he didn’t cooperate. He would have to go back to his regiment, they said. The authorities would need to be informed. Was he home on leave, they wanted to know. Was he due back with his battalion? Had he gone absent?

What were you thinking, lad? they asked. Are you a deserter?

The electric bulb buzzes and casts a cold white light. It has been left on all night, the moths dancing foolishly around it. He picks them up off the floor now and they crumble to dust between his fingers.

The sergeant had brought him a tin mug of tea, bread and butter and a jug of hot water. He’d told him that he should wash. That he stank. When he put his hands to his face he realized that he hadn’t shaved for several days. He can’t remember his own reflection. He felt the new shape of his face with his wet fingers. The sergeant had leaned against the wall as he watched him wash. He said that he lost his son to the war last year. That Colin was a good boy. That his mother wouldn’t ever get over it. There were dark shadows under the man’s eyes.

Where’s your mother, lad? Does she know where you are? Don’t you want to be a good boy for your mother?

They showed him the charge sheet, turned it round to face him, the empty white spaces that ought to be filled. Where he ought to have a date and place of birth. Where he ought to have a residence. A next of kin. A name. The inspector’s finger jabbed at the paper.

What are you called? he asked it again. They keep on asking it. What’s your fucking name?

About the Author
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. The Photographer of the Lost was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

Twitter: @CScottBooks

The Runaway Sisters by Ann Bennett @annbennett71 @bookouture #bookextract #historicalfiction

The Runaway Sisters written by Ann Bennett publisher Bookouture is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

Book Blurb

The story of two sisters fighting to survive in the darkest days of World War Two. A heartbreaking tale of resilience and bravery, about having the courage to sacrifice yourself in order to save the ones you love…

Devon, 1940: When fifteen-year-old Daisy is evacuated from her home in London, she knows she must look after her younger sister Peggy. She is the only one who can reassure Peggy that life will go back to normal, holding her close and reading to her from their one battered children’s book.

But when the sisters are taken into the countryside, Daisy quickly realises that not everyone at home is on the right side of the war. Forced to work in fields alongside orphan children, she finds herself drawn to a young boy called John, who has tried and failed to escape many times before. He protects the other children, and his bravery inspires Daisy.

Then Peggy gets sick and Daisy knows that, to save her life, they must run away. But now Peggy is not the only one Daisy is desperate to protect. As the sounds of German engines grow louder above her, Daisy is faced with an impossible choice: escape with just her sister, or risk her life to save others?

Perfect for fans of Lisa Wingate, Diney Costeloe and Shirley Dickson, The Runaway Sisters is a tale of heartwrenching loss and uplifting courage. It’s a story about family, and the light that can be found in the dark clouds of war.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B08B65D853Social

Apple: http://ow.ly/MCo950Aa3IP

Kobo: http://ow.ly/bglK50Aa3Ho 

Google: http://ow.ly/TQOn50Aa3GJ

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Ann Bennett’s latest historical novel: The Runaway Sisters. This book is next on my TBR and I will post my review shortly however, today I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you,

Chapter One
Helen 

As the lane climbed towards the open moor it became narrower and steeper. The high Devon banks on either side closed in, thick with bracken and dripping greenery. Helen drove slowly, but in places the way ahead became so confined that she had to slow the car to walking pace to avoid scraping it on the sharp rocks, obscured by ferns and foliage.

It seemed to Helen that this tiny lane, with its tortured twists and turns as it laboured up the foothills towards Dartmoor, somehow reflected her own mood, even more so as the dark clouds ahead closed in on her and she drew closer to Black Moor Hall.

At last she entered a stretch of dense woodland, where a moorland stream rushed downhill in a gully beside the road, and the entrance to the house came into view. Black wrought-iron gates rusting with age stood between tall, granite pillars. She pulled off the lane, stopped the car on the little bridge that crossed the stream and got out to open the gates. As she did so, she glanced down at her phone lying on the passenger seat. A text was flashing on the screen.

Sorry, going to be a bit late. Something’s come up. See you later. Laura.
Helen sighed, inching the car through the gates. Predictable; typical even. But it didn’t matter really; it would give her a chance to wander around the place alone and get her thoughts together. She needed time to reflect.
She drove along the rough track, through the spinney of evergreens, and as she rounded the final bend, the old house hove into view. It was a grey, overcast day, with mists rolling in from the high moor. The house looked even more forbidding than usual with its sombre granite gables and square bay windows either side of the imposing entrance. Helen pulled the car up on the circular drive and, suppressing a shudder, fumbled in her handbag for the keys.

As she paused on the threshold, she realised that she couldn’t remember a time in recent years when she’d been inside the house alone. As she closed the heavy front door behind her and ventured through the porch into the vast entrance hall, she felt the chill wrap itself around her…

About the Author

Ann Bennett was born in a small village in Northamptonshire and now lives in Surrey. Her first book, A Daughter’s Quest, originally published as Bamboo Heart, was inspired by her father’s experience as a prisoner of war on the Thai-Burma Railway. The Planter’s Wife (originally published as Bamboo Island) a Daughter’s Promise and The Homecoming, (formerly Bamboo Road) are also about the war in South East Asia.

Ann is married with three grown up sons and works as a lawyer. For more details please visit www.bambooheart.co.uk

Author Social Media Links:

Twitter: @annbennett71

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

The Awakening of Claudia Faraday by Patsy Trench @PatsyTrench @rararesources #bookextract

The Awakening Of Claudia Faraday written by Patsy Trench, publisher Prefab Publications, is available NOW in ebook, kindleunlimited and paperback format.

Book Blurb

‘It got better, in time, though to be truthful it always felt more of a duty than a pleasure: a little like homework, satisfying when over, and done well, but never exactly enjoyable. But then nobody had ever suggested it could be otherwise.’

This was the view of Claudia Faraday, 1920s respectable wife and mother of three, on the subject of sex. That is until an unexpected turn of events shakes her out of her torpor and propels her back into the world revitalised and reawakened, where she discovers, as Marie Stopes might have said: Approached in the right way, even homework can be fun.

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/ClaudiaF

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting Patsy Trench’s novel: The Awakening of of Claudia Faraday. I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you.

A young stranger has arrived at Claudia’s house unexpectedly.

So Claudia rang for tea, and as they sat together, the young man and the middle-aged woman, in the fading light of an early autumn day, she asked the stranger how he came to be acquainted with her husband.

‘I was working with him,’ he said. ‘In Africa. A great privilege.’

‘And what part of Africa would that be?’

‘Tanganyika, the Olduvai Gorge, you may have heard of it.’

Claudia nodded vaguely. ‘How is he?’

‘Excellent. Yes. You’ve not heard from him recently? No, he did confess as much. He gets very caught up with his work, very dedicated. Single-minded, you could say.’

‘He only made it to one of the three weddings,’ said Claudia.

‘Three weddings?’

‘Three daughters, three weddings, within a few months of each other. He made it to one but was unable to stay for the others.’

‘I see.’

‘And what exactly did he confess?’ said Claudia, trying to keep the archness from her voice.

‘Confess?’

‘“He did confess as much.” Your words.’

‘Ah. He confessed he had a family.’

‘“Confessed he had a family”?’ Claudia’s eyebrows lifted imperceptibly. ‘And did he talk much about his family?’

‘I believe he said he’d been over, yes, he’d been over for a wedding earlier in the year, though he didn’t mention a daughter. A family wedding I gather, I didn’t really ask.’ He flashed her a disarming smile. ‘But I did promise to call in on you,’ he went on. ‘To give you news of him.’

‘Ah, not to see how I was.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Never mind,’ said Claudia. She gave a small sigh.

‘I’m tiring you. Would you like me to go?’

‘You might as well stay for supper,’ she found herself saying.

‘That’s very kind of you,’ said the young man. ‘I accept.’

So he stayed for supper, and they spent the evening talking about Africa, and what it was like living in the wilds, far from civilisation. He described to Claudia in vivid detail the process and the aims of working on an archaeological dig and the excitement of new discoveries – or revelations, as he called them – that stood to alter one’s entire perceptions and understanding of ancient history; and above all to be working alongside a man of such inspirational spirit, such insight. He told the story of the day they came across a piece of blackened rock, no bigger than a child’s fist, which no one but the master thought to be of significance. So while the rest of the party slept, the master worked through the night, by the light of a failing torch, until his fingers were bleeding, and by dawn he had uncovered a portion of the skull of what some time later proved to be Homo Habilis. And while to some extent Claudia had heard it all before – indeed she had herself many years ago witnessed what it was like living under canvas, in the middle of nowhere – such was the young man’s passion and eloquence she felt she was hearing it for the first time.

‘So,’ he said finally, and fell silent. A moment passed and then he added, ‘And what about you?’

‘Me? What about me?’

‘It can’t be a lot of fun, here at home, a woman on her own, no husband.’

He was watching her out of the corner of his eye. She was not disposed to rise to the comment so she said something to the effect that she managed quite well, thank you, as did many other women with absentee husbands.

She wondered what her husband Gerald had made of this forthright, enthusiastic and forward young man, at which point a startling thought came into her head and she said, ‘Did my husband send you on a mission perhaps? To spy on me? See what I get up to while the cat’s away?’

‘Spy on you? Gracious.’ He pretended to look shocked for a moment. ‘What an intriguing thought. So I must unearth your secrets.’

She was about to tell him that that would take no time at all, but deciding a little mystery would do no harm she gave him her best Giaconda smile before realising, to her simultaneous alarm and amusement, that he might think she was flirting with him. So by way of a change of subject she asked her visitor where his adventures were to take him next, at which point the conversation took an unexpected turn.

‘India,’ was his instant and emphatic reply, and in particular a temple in a place whose name Claudia could not quite catch; where, he explained, were to be found sculptures representing the Hindu ‘Four Truths’, among which is Kama, or Desire. He had a specific interest in a set of erotic sculptures which were believed to date back to the eleventh century and which contained, in addition to representations of homosexuality and hermaphroditism, images of self-pleasuring, both male and female.

‘Self . . . ? Oh!’ said Claudia, in such a way, she later realised, that might have given the (mistaken) impression she wanted to hear more. So the young man hurtled on, relating what he knew of the culture of sexual congress through history and at what point it was believed that women, as well as men, had discovered the delights of self-pleasuring. It was his view that the ancients, in this respect at least, were ahead of their time – you only had to look at the Romans and the Greeks – indeed, ahead of our time. Imagine attempting to display such artefacts in modern society!

Quite what all this had to do with archaeology was unclear, and so Claudia sat, silent and perfectly still, until the clock struck ten; at which point the young man at last drew breath and said, ‘It’s ten o’clock, I must be on my way.’

‘Where do you have to get to?’ Claudia asked.

‘London.’

‘Well, you’ve missed the last train.’

‘Really?’ he exclaimed.

‘You will have to stay the night.’

Author Bio –

Patsy Trench lives a quiet and largely respectable life in north London. Claudia’s story shows a side of her normally shy and reserved nature that is little known, even to her friends and acquaintances. Her previous books, about her family’s history in Australia, are entertaining and informative accounts of that country’s early colonial beginnings. She began writing late, and in a previous life she was an actress, scriptwriter, playscout, founder of The Children’s Musical Theatre of London and lyricist. When not writing books she emerges from her shell to teach theatre and organise theatre trips for overseas students. She is the grateful mother of two clever and grown-up children, and she is addicted to rag rugging and, when current circumstances permit, fossicking on the Thames foreshore for ancient treasure.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.patsytrench.com

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

Twitter:  @PatsyTrench

Instagram: claudiafaraday1920

Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace by Julie Stock @wood_beez48 @raresources

starting-over-alsace-FINAL

Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace written and self-published by Julie Stock is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

Book Blurb

It’s springtime at The Vineyard in Alsace, a new season and a new beginning

After being abandoned by her partner when she falls pregnant, Lottie Schell goes home to live on The Vineyard in Alsace, where she has started a new relationship with the estate’s winemaker, Thierry. Now about to give birth, Lottie’s determined to raise her child and to provide for them both on her own without having to depend on anyone else.

Thierry Bernard is still dealing with his grief and guilt following the death of his wife two years earlier, for which he blames himself. When he meets Lottie, the instant attraction he feels towards her gives him hope that he can move on from the tragedy of his past, as long as he can tell Lottie the truth of what happened.

When circumstances force Lottie and Thierry closer together, they both find it hard to compromise – she’s proudly independent and he’s fiercely protective – and they’re both wary about trusting someone new with their heart.

Can Lottie and Thierry take a chance on each other, move on from their pasts and start over?

Escape to The Vineyard in Alsace once again with this romantic read set in the heart of Alsace’s wine country.

Purchase Link – Amazon

Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace Full Tour Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Julie Stock’s latest novel: Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace.  I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you.

Thierry faces up to the fact that he is still grieving for his wife, Nicole, and that he needs help to move on.

Thierry

By the time he’d returned to the vineyard, Thierry was feeling calmer. Just the sight of the rows and rows of vines in front of him, and the order they depicted, allowed his breathing to return to normal and his frustration to abate. Lottie had never been afraid to speak her mind to him – that was one of the things he liked best about her – but he wished she wasn’t so perceptive sometimes. He was still grieving for Nicole – Lottie was right about that – and he had no idea how to start moving on.

He’d been angry ever since Nicole had died, but what husband wouldn’t be, after losing his wife in such a senseless way? There wasn’t a limit to how long it should take him to get over her loss, was there? But then an inner voice of doubt spoke up. Shouldn’t you be feeling less angry about it all by now? Is it time to start moving on?

He couldn’t answer any of these questions for himself, that was for sure. He found it hard to talk about his feelings at the best of times, so there was no way he was going to talk to his friends about it. He certainly couldn’t talk to Nicole’s parents, who were still struggling to come to terms with their own feelings after losing their only daughter.

He stopped in front of the pinot noir vines and stared out across the estate. He owed it to Lottie to tell her what had happened if they were going to be together, but right now, he wouldn’t even know where to start with explaining how he felt. He’d been wondering for a while now whether counselling might help him, but he was afraid to take that step. He rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his mind. What was the right thing to do?

He took one last look at the estate, before turning away from the vines to head back to the office in search of Didier. He walked through the bare vines to the path that led up to the courtyard where the estate office was and made his way steadily up the slope.

Didier was alone and Thierry sighed with relief. He didn’t want to talk in front of Henri, Didier’s assistant, even though they were all good friends and had worked together for years. It would be hard enough having to reveal his weakness to Didier, his best friend, let alone anyone else.

Salut, ça va?’ he asked as he came in, closing the door behind him.

‘Not bad, you? Do you want a coffee?’

Thierry nodded and sank gratefully into Henri’s padded desk chair.

‘I think I may need counselling.’ He winced, embarrassed at saying it out loud.

‘That’s a great conversation starter,’ Didier replied setting a cup of coffee in front of him. ‘How did all this come up?’

‘I asked Lottie to move in with me again, and she told me I still need to deal with my grief.’ Thierry stared absently at his coffee. ‘And the thing is, she only said what I’ve been telling myself for a while now.’

Didier blew out a long breath. ‘And you think counselling might be the answer?’

Thierry nodded, looking up. ‘But the trouble is, even the thought of needing therapy makes me feel weak and inadequate. Then after our conversation, as I thought about it, I wondered if she was right. If I want to be with her, I need to sort this out.’

Author Bio –

Starting Over - Author PicJulie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in 2015, after starting to write as an escape from the demands of her day job as a teacher. Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace is her ninth book, and the second in the Domaine des Montagnes series set on a vineyard.

Julie is now a full-time author, and loves every minute of her writing life. When not writing, she can be found reading, her favourite past-time, running, a new hobby, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, glass of wine in hand.

Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Social Media Links –

Website:  https://julie-stock.co.uk/

Twitter:  @wood_beez48

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

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/julie.stockauthor/

 

 

Paris Savages by Katharine Johnson @KJohnsonauthor @allisonandbusby #ParisSavages #blogtour #bookextract

Paris Savages

Paris Savages written by Katharine Johnson, publisher Allison & Busby, is available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook format from the 23rd July 2020.

Book Blurb

Fraser Island, Australia 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Müller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England.

Accompanied by Müller’s bright daughter, Hilda, the group begins their journey to belle-époque Europe to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing from the oldest culture in the world, the attention is relentless, and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.

To pre-order/buy link:  https://amzn.to/2BgYfeD

paris savages tour poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Katharine Johnson’s latest novel: Paris Savages.

I have the pleasure of sharing an extract for you:

Hilda rests the dip-pen across the inkwell and stands to stretch. Dry in the mouth with thirst and slick with sweat, she goes to the table at the foot of her father’s bed and pours a glass of water from the jug they keep there. Each evening, she fills the pottery jug from the nearby creek and makes a habit of checking the contents of her glass for insect larvae before she drinks, secretly afraid that if she missed one, or two, the larvae would grow into mosquitos inside her. It is only since her mother died that Hilda and her father have shared this front room, their single beds pressed to either side.

Louis’s elbow-patched coat hangs from the end of his bedpost, the envelope from Germany protruding from the pocket. Hilda remembers the visiting missionary delivering it, her father’s keenness to see what it said and his desire for the man to be gone.

‘It is with some reluctance that I pass this on to you, Herr Müller. I have not heard much of Herr Hagenbeck, but Barnum, the American equivalent, is, as you know, a fraud. Am I right that you also received correspondence some weeks ago from him?’ the missionary asked. His repeated and ill-pronounced use of the German title ‘Herr’ failed to impress Hilda’s father, who shook his head dismissively, yet he used his penknife to carefully slice open the envelope so that the return address remained intact. On the envelope’s reverse side, Hilda made out the word ‘Hamburg’ and a crest in the shape of a lion.

‘Papa?’

‘Later.’ He kissed her forehead.

But her father did not show the letter to her, choosing instead to tell her of its contents: the invitation to go back to Germany, the idea to take three of their friends. He made it sound, indeed, like a God-given opportunity, if one believed in God.

Now, the morning sun rising steeply, burning off the mist blanketing the banksias and other flowering plants of the woodland understorey, it is Hilda who holds the envelope. Through a crack in the hut’s crooked door, she sees her father and Jurano coming along the southern track into the camp. Jurano is carrying his spear and a fish. Louis takes a seat cross-legged on the white sand beside Jurano and begins sharpening a stone tool against a larger rock the way he was taught. He laughs warmly at something Jurano says, then tests the sharpness of the tool by slicing a long fair hair from his own head. The Badtjala man nods at his student, who at forty-four is exactly twice his age, and slowly claps his hands. Jurano’s laughter is high-pitched. It is the kind of laughter that is difficult not to take part in, but today Hilda stays quiet.

Her nightdress clings and she opens the window shutter wider beside her father’s bed. Dorondera and her young cousins are already some distance along the beach collecting shellfish, dillybags bulging on strings around their necks, a white ribbon flashing in Dorondera’s hair. The ribbon was a gift from Hilda’s father. Bonny is there also, broad-backed and handsome, with Little Bonny on his shoulders, scouting. Little Bonny calls out and Bonny sets his nephew on the ground, casts his spear and hauls up a flapping fish.

Hilda moves deeper into the shadows of the shelter in case her father should look up. He has told her often enough that it is wrong to read another person’s mail, but her mother had impressed upon her, too, that it is wrong to keep secrets, and she cannot help but feel her father is doing just that. She looks at the carte de visite and reads the text in the margin: C. Hagenbeck with Nubians. Carl Hagenbeck’s Thierpark, Hamburg. The black men are pictured with elephants. Hagenbeck is leaning on a stick, his beard neatly trimmed, a light-coloured homburg on his head.

Sweat is building on Hilda’s face and under her nightdress, and she is overwhelmed with the need for cooler air. In the small back room, she quickly changes into a white cotton day dress that belonged to her mother and takes the letter and carte de visite pressed to her skirts as she exits the shelter, walking swiftly until she is safely behind the hut and hidden in the shade of a pandanus. If her father saw her leave, he will assume she has continued on, following the narrow path through the banksias, and is relieving herself in the privacy afforded by the canvas screen he erected there for her. He will keep an ear out in case she shouts, Snake!

Hilda wipes her hands against the dress and opens the letter, gold-green under the pandanus frond. In the dappled light, a mosquito swarm hums. She takes several leaves from a neighbouring eucalypt, crushes them against her skin, and reads in German:

 

Sehr geehrter Herr Müller,

I am proud to have pioneered anthropozoological exhibitions to meet the great public interest in seeing exotic peoples first-hand, and to facilitate the growing interest in anthropological science. It is to this end that I invite you to bring several Australian Aborigines to Germany. I am offering to sponsor your expenses, including your passage back to Europe.

You may be encouraged to know that I believe in showing people naturally, displaying their skill with weapons, their exotic dances and songs. In short, their culture. Perhaps you also have been contacted by the American P. T. Barnum, who I believe is advertising in Australia and contacting agents directly. Although I supply animals to Barnum’s circuses, my approach to exhibiting exotic people cannot be compared with his.

Sincerely,

  1. Hagenbeck

Hilda breathes out. It is as her father explained, although she wonders if the German showman realises her father is an engineer by training, not strictly a scientist. Surely he has heard of him and the scandal of the bridge. She rereads the end of the letter and recalls the missionary asking if her father had also received mail from the ‘fraud’ Barnum. Finally, she locates an envelope bearing a green Washington stamp.

9 October 1881

Dear Sir,

I desire to carry out as far as possible an idea I have long entertained of forming a collection, in pairs or otherwise, of all the uncivilised races in existence and my present object is to ask your kindness to render me what assistance is in your power to acquire any specimens of these uncivilised peoples.

My aim is to exhibit to the American public, not only human beings of different races but also, where practicable, those who possess extraordinary peculiarities such as giants, dwarfs, singular disfigurements of the person, dexterity in the use of weapons, dancing, singing, juggling, unusual feats of agility etc.

The remuneration of these people in addition to their board and travelling expenses is usually nominal. I shall see that they are presented with fancy articles such as are acceptable and a small allowance monthly. If interpreters should be absolutely necessary please inform me what would be the cost which must be moderate. For yourself I should be glad to reimburse you for any outlay.

I wish to thank you kindly to favour me with an early reply as convenient.

Yours faithfully,

  1. T. Barnum

Heat rises in Hilda’s neck and face, and a sick feeling consumes her. Why hadn’t her father told her that he had received this? Surely he would not have anything to do with a venture that collects people as curiosities and promises them ‘fancy articles’, as if they were children.

‘Papa,’ she calls, and her father raises his head, a smile still on his lips. The smile goes when he sees her holding the envelope with the distinctive green stamp. He stands and walks towards her, telling Jurano in Badtjala that he will return to his lesson soon.

‘Hilda, Liebchen,’ he says, studying her. ‘What are you doing going through my things?’ He sighs as he reaches for the mail, but she refuses to hand it to him, clutching both letters instead behind her back like she used to with a find her parents considered dangerous – a nail or screw or piece of iron from a construction project on the outskirts of the colony. He takes another long breath. His bare chest, stronger since their arrival on K’gari, expands and slowly contracts. He lets out a warm chuckle as one might do if amused by a child, yet something in his expression suggests he is nervous.

Hilda is aware of tears welling in her eyes. Didn’t he see her now as a companion as well as a daughter, someone he could confide in?

‘Why didn’t you tell me that Barnum had contacted you?’ she asks. ‘It’s awful what he wrote.’ She walks towards the fire.

‘Because it is of no concern. I have declined Barnum’s offer.’ Louis shakes his head and Hilda stops, reluctantly placing the mail in his outstretched hand.

‘Hagenbeck is precisely what Barnum is not,’ he says. ‘Why would I bother you with the rantings of that showman?’

Hilda releases her own withheld breath as her father continues.

‘I am forcing no one. Herr Hagenbeck’s offer is generous and our friends have accepted the invitation. They will gain so much, if Bonny is not too proud to learn.’ He smiles and takes her hand. ‘They are excited, Hilda. As I hope you are.’ He studies her. ‘You don’t doubt Hagenbeck’s intentions? Is there something else concerning you?’

Hilda shakes her head.

Her father looks towards Jurano, who is now talking with his wife and again laughing light-heartedly at something, perhaps even making a joke at their expense.

‘Jurano will miss his wife. She really doesn’t want to come?’ Hilda asks.

‘No. I offered several times. She doesn’t want to join us.’

‘What if he gets sick? What if any of them get sick?’

‘People fall ill here, too, Hilda.’ He looks at her pointedly and she knows he is talking of her mother. ‘I need you to be supportive. There is a great deal of interest to see them before . . .’

‘Before they are all dead?’ She quickly wipes her face dry with her sleeve, the lace cuffs of her mother’s dress almost entirely worn away. ‘These people are not weak, they are being killed!’

Jurano looks up from his own conversation and stares towards them.

Louis reaches out and squeezes Hilda’s shoulder. He presses the index finger of his other hand to his lips, asking that she speak more quietly.

‘It is why I want to take them overseas. To find an audience. Your mother always wished others to see our friends as we have,’ he says, his voice low. He pats her shoulder and starts again with growing conviction. ‘I simply cannot stand by and do nothing while they are moved off the island as some say will happen within the year. Your mother’s life, her death, must count for something. It is my greatest hope that there will soon be an Aboriginal reserve bearing her name.’ He looks at Hilda intently, and she is surprised to see that he is holding back tears.

‘I thought you would be more excited, Hilda. You’re a young woman now. There are so many more possibilities for you back home. Look at you.’ He waves his hand in admiration, the silver ring with the family crest glinting in the sun. He has only recently started wearing the ring again.

‘Beautiful, smart, wilful,’ he continues, laughing on the last word. Laughter is something he has done more of since being on the island, although less so in the last year. ‘Your mother would have been so proud.’ He looks down at the beach, serious again. ‘Of them, too.’

‘And when will you bring them back?’

He picks a dry frond from a dja’ga plant, the one the settlers call black boy because of its spear-like flowering body, and feeds it into the gap between his front teeth.

‘You will bring them back?’

‘Of course,’ he says. ‘When tensions here have eased and we have finished our tour. When we have drawn sufficient attention. Bonny says he wants to meet the Queen of England, no less. He wants to tell her personally what the native people of this colony are suffering in her name.’ As if thinking Bonny’s request quaint, Louis twirls the long, grass-like leaf in his smile.

Why hadn’t Bonny told her of this? ‘Then we must,’ she says, turning towards the beach.

About the Author

KATHERINE JOHNSON lives in Tasmania with her husband and two children. She is the author of three previous novels and her manuscripts have won Varuna Awards and the Tasmasnian Premier’s Literary Prizes. She recently completed a PhD, which forms the basis of her latest novel, Paris Savages.

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland @JessicaRedland @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #FindingLoveatHedgehogHollow #extract

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow Cover

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow written by Jessica Redland, publisher Boldwood Books, is available NOW in ebook, audiobook and paperback format.

Book Blurb

Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?

As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.

But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.

Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfill Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.

Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…

Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2xrmxAo

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow Full Tour Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Jessica Redland’s latest novel: Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.  I have the pleasure of sharing an extract:

‘Oh, Sammie,’ he said gently, his eyes full of sympathy and his shoulders slumped. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Please don’t be nice to me. You’ll set me off again.’ I took a deep breath. ‘I know it’s not ideal that he chose someone in my family but, if it hadn’t been Chloe, I’d have lost him to someone else. It was never going to last much longer, no matter how much I wanted it to. But it was Chloe he fell for and it is what it is. And look how happy she is. She deserved to find a good guy after all the bad ones.’

How could I begrudge her happiness with someone who I knew to be a genuinely lovely person whose only flaw, from what I’d seen, was that he hadn’t fallen helplessly in love with me like I had with him?

‘Can I have the bridesmaid and best man?’ the photographer called. ‘And can the immediate family be standing by please?’

‘That’s our cue.’ Dad squeezed my hand as we stepped forward. ‘You know I’m here for you if you ever want to talk about it.’

‘Thanks, Dad. I know and I love you for it.’

As we posed for what seemed like hundreds of photos, I pushed my heartache aside and focused on Chloe’s happiness. She wasn’t just my cousin, she was my lifelong best friend. With only a six-month age difference, we’d been in the same class at school and had attended many of the same after-school clubs. We lived a couple of streets apart and our families holidayed together so every aspect of our lives had always been inextricably linked. And now we were linked by James, and I just had to learn to live with that or risk losing Chloe.

About the Author

Finding Love - AuthorJessica Redland is the author of nine novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

Social Media Links –

 

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

Twitter –  @JessicaRedland

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

Own website – https://www.jessicaredland.com/

Blog – https://jessicaredlandwriter.wordpress.com/

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessica-redland

Mailing list sign up – http://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNewsletter

 

Dear … Anybody? by Rosa Temple book extract @RosaT_Author #indieauthor #extract #contemporaryromance

Dear Anybody - Cover_2019

Dear … Anybody? written and self-published by Rosa Temple is available NOW in ebook and kindleunlimited format.

Book Blurb
Local newspaper journalist, Sydney, is like many women. Bored at work, bad hair days, karaoke nights, loving boyfriend and a fabulous best friend. But a huge discovery sends her whole world spiralling downwards and things will never be the same again. She’s lost her job, her boyfriend and, well, everything.
Unlike most women, Sydney’s answer is to resort to binge eating, binge drinking and never leaving her bedroom.
An unexpected job offer comes her way and Sydney leaves London for the tiny village of Bridley to become editor of a countryside magazine, not realising that part of the job means becoming the magazine’s Agony Aunt.
Resolving to make her mark as an editor and to set the problematic lives of Bridley villagers to rights, Sydney uncovers hidden truths, secret loves and the possibility of romance lies in wait behind the counter of her favourite coffee shop.
Is it that easy to turn your life around? Well, maybe not for Sydney …

Amazon Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086Q1Z63N

Happy Publication Day to Rosa Temple, I am so pleased to help with the release day celebrations by sharing an extract:

Chapter 1
Today of all days it has to rain. I had my hair all planned. Bone straight like the woman in the perfume advert, the perfume Helena said Leon bought her for her birthday and that she didn’t like. The perfume may not have been up to much but I couldn’t help hoping my unruly hair would be up for the job today. I needed perfection. The perfect look. It only had to last long enough for me to deliver my speech and then my hair could do whatever the hell it liked, the way it usually did.
Helena had told me to relax, things have a way of working themselves out and that I’d look fabulous whatever. Easy for her to say. Not that I’m not knocking Helena, she’s a wonderful best friend and an equally wonderful person but her beauty is as natural as it is perfect. It isn’t jealousy that has me ogling her splendour when she isn’t looking but I’m just so amazed at how effortless it is for her to look stunning. Helena’s hair has the ability to just sit there looking luscious, thick and curly and full of life, even though hair is supposed to be dead. My hair knows it’s dead and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.
I’d seen Helena a lot in the run up to her month long holiday to Brazil because I knew I would miss her like hell. The trip to Brazil was another birthday present from her ever loving, ever rich, fiancé, Leon.
Helena has been a supportive friend since I met her at university, but despite what she said, I knew more than anyone I needed to get up early for the big day and sort my look out.
I blink upwards to the skylight at the cloudy sky, the first in ages since the London heatwave. It’s September, it’s been hot and humid, tempers are short and London has been like the inside of a hot air balloon waiting to explode. They’ve talked about a rainstorm hitting us on the Six O’Clock News all week but so far the rain has kept us guessing. Until last night, that is, when the heavens opened. It had been thundery through the night. Rob slept through it, snoring a symphony of snorts and puffs, as if the storm outside wasn’t enough to keep me awake.
It’s no wonder I’m anxious. I haven’t slept a wink. The rain is drumming a timely rhythm on the glass and I curse the weatherman for his sealing the doom of my hair.
‘You getting up already?’ Rob’s head is under the pillow. As is usual for the summer months Rob isn’t under the sheets. His naked body is in the recovery position, one arm is hanging off the bed, his buttocks facing me.
‘It’s the big one,’ I say to his glutes. ‘I’ve got to start getting ready.’
Rob grunts as I get out of bed. The poor thing must be sick and tired of me going on about the promotion at work. Geoff, the sub-editor gave in his notice and as the most senior of the writers on the newspaper I was sure I’d be promoted into the corner office. Not only that, when I was leaving to go home yesterday, Danielle, my editor, grabbed my arm and told me she needed to talk to me at some stage the next day. It’s Geoff’s leaving do tonight so she obviously has to make the announcement today.
The staff at the local paper total eight and only two people have their own office. Danielle’s office is a proper one with walls, a window and a door. Geoff, whose room is a partitioned section of the main, open plan office is constructed with hardwood and glass but it has it’s own door, so it is a real office to me.
I’ve been at the Kilburn Times, a weekly newspaper, for six years. I progressed from selling ad space for commission to a salaried position writing features. I’m not sure how much longer I can last without going completely mad. I don’t hate my job, I just thought the journalism course I took at night school would have paid off by now and I would have gotten further in my career. My degree in Media Production hadn’t paid off. After university I managed to get a job as a runner in a production company and worked my way up to general dogsbody in the script editor department. I was enjoying it a lot until, as luck would have it, the company closed down. I was out of work for a year. I saw the advert to sell advertising space for the Kilburn Times and applied in desperation. Later came the journalism course, and later still came the need to find a better job in journalism. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve pitched articles, features and column ideas to the nationals. I was turned down every time.
Years ago I’d told Rob that if I couldn’t make it onto a national paper by the time I was thirty, I’d leave journalism and become a best selling author instead. Now I’m thirty-one, still at the local paper and I’ve not come up with one single idea for a best-selling novel. So, if the best I can ever do is become a sub-editor for a weekly, suburban rag then that will have to do.
As I’m carefully de-tangling my hair in the shower, Rob stumbles into the bathroom for a wee. Holding his penis with one hand, propping himself up with the other on the wall above the loo, he takes the longest of slashes and I’m annoyed because the sound of urine is messing with my Chi. I’d convinced myself that if I thought calm thoughts the rain would stop and my hair would behave. All I’d need to do was wave the hair straighteners at it, giving my hair fair warning that I needed results. No odd waves here and there among the smooth bits. Rob washes his hands and yawns. Through the steamy glass door I see him raise a thumb at me which is morning talk for ‘I’m making coffee, are you in?’
‘Yep!’ I shout in case he can’t hear while still in his morning coma. There used to be a time when Rob was all systems go in the morning and we’d end up in the shower together. But just a short time ago, while we were making love in the shower, I slipped on some Herbal Essence shampoo and banged my head on the taps while Rob grazed his back on the shower gel holder. Since then we stopped being sexually active in the morning. In the shower anyway. These days, if we do make love in the mornings it is at weekends only, in our bed. Things are a little routine between us, I must admit, but we’ve been going out for five years, living together for three of those. I’m not complaining about our routines, in fact I find them charming. I love how we read each other like a book. For example Rob knows it’s going to take me the bast part of half an hour to go at my hair with the straighteners so he leaves my coffee on my bedside table as he gets ready for work.
‘Don’t be late,’ he reminds me when I’m almost ready and he is already about to leave. He’s looking immaculate in his suit and tie ready for another day at the solicitor’s office in St Paul’s.
‘I’m there,’ I say. But I’m not there. I still have to find my amber earrings and decide on shoes.
‘What time you home tonight, again?’ he asks from the bedroom door.
‘Late. You know what that lot are like when there’s booze around. I expect Geoff to become extremely loud and rowdy and Rani will probably suggest a nightclub after the bar.’
‘Well, enjoy it and good luck for today.’ Rob scoots back over to the wardrobe mirror where I’m trying to meditate my saddle bags away using body scanning methods so that my trousers fall better. No one in history has ever reduced saddle bags in this way but I’m convinced that it’s working in my mirror. Rob goes to kiss my cheek and I turn my head and offer him the corner next to my ear so he doesn’t ruin my foundation.
‘Thanks darling,’ I say. ‘Don’t wait up. I’ll tell you all about it in the morning.’
It’s not my imagination, my inner Chi has stopped the rain and my hair looks fabulous. I can now leave. Shit. Ten minutes late. But Danielle has to drop her son at nursery every morning anyway and doesn’t turn up until at least nine-fifteen. I should make it in time before her if I walk like I’m in the Olympics to the bus stop.
Sub-editor here I come, I think, as I skip my way down from our top floor flat, out of the main door and down the front steps of the house. I’m on my way. In less than a split second a large white van comes screeching up my road. I turn as I hear its wheels on the slicked tarmac and think nothing of it as I hurry myself along to the corner of the road. In no time the white van is about to be parallel to me. I turn to see the driver, a woman with frizzy hair and a scowl. She speeds past me, screeching and lurching. In super fast motion I look from her frizzy hair and scowl to the logo on the van door and then at the huge puddle I’m right alongside. An enormous wave of oily rain and sludge sprays in my direction and I can’t escape it. My raincoat is ruined by black splodges. My shoes are a write off and the tips of my hair are soggy and already starting to revert to blandness. I wave a fist at the driver. Then I close my eyes and take in a long deep breath. I need to find my Chi. Quick. Before I start jumping up and down, crying. There is no time to go back and fix this. Today of all days I must be at my desk working before Danielle gets in.
Rani is the first one to comment on the straggly tips of my hair. She asks if I was going for a new look but I shake my head at her, take off my raincoat and hang it on the coat rack by the door. Mine is the only one there, I notice because somehow the heatwave is back on and the world has gone back to normal. I am the only one in the office who looks like a drowned rat.
‘It doesn’t look bad,’ Rani says. ‘It’s just a bit flat on top and a bit … are you okay?’
I still don’t answer, I’m taking deep breaths and connecting to my Chi for all I’m worth. If I open my mouth to curse the driver of the van I might upset Karma and the promotion won’t come.
‘I’m fine,’ I say on a loud and lengthy exhale.
‘Okay, good. I was just doing coffees and teas for the meeting.’
‘Meeting?’ I ask, baffled. ‘No one mentioned a meeting.’
‘Yes they did. Don’t suppose you would you have heard, anyway. Danielle announced it yesterday morning. More about the changes I should imagine.’
I nod as if I understand. But Rani is right, I do have the tendency to phase out at work. Usually I’m looking for other jobs or surfing the web and taking quizzes. My work has become a walk in the park. Literally. The last feature I wrote was called Fantastic Walks In Our Neighbourhood and I had to walk around several parks and take scenic trails in order to write it. During my research I nearly trod in dog poo and when I sat on a bench for a rest a homeless woman kept pulling her bag away from me. There must be more to life than this, I’d thought at the time. I need a challenge, I’m stagnating. Roll on the promotion.
My hair style of half straight and half crinkly hair is an object of fascination for most people at the meeting and I try to play it cool. I’m staring into Danielle’s mouth as she leads the meeting just waiting for her to make the announcement about the sub-editor post. All I can hear is a lot of blah, blah, blah about the changing climate, cutting back and new ways of keeping up to date. Although I’m only listening for my name it never gets mentioned and suddenly everyone is getting up to leave her office. I screw up my brow and wonder why she didn’t talk about the promotion. Just before we leave Danielle checks that everyone will be at Geoff’s leaving do later. I’m guessing she’ll make the announcement at the restaurant instead. Fair enough. At least I’ll have time to compose myself for the acceptance speech. I’m still feeling a bit flat after being splashed by a puddle.
Back at my desk I call Helena just in case she can make it along to the leaving do.
‘I know it’s a bit of a long shot but I could do with backup,’ I tell her.
‘Sorry, babes. You know, off to Brazil in the morning and there are a ton of things to do. Full body wax. Last minute shopping. Don’t talk to me about packing. And can you believe Leon is taking the company to dinner this evening? Because they have to cope for one month without him it’s a thank you gesture and his way of getting the staff to bond with his stand-in. Guaranteed he’ll be on the phone or Skyping with them for half the holiday.’ She laughs, wishes me luck and blows a kiss down the phone before hanging up. If I know Helena she’ll be taking her laptop to Brazil and working for most of the holiday herself.
Danielle gives nothing away about the promotion all day, not even a hint. There are only three days before Geoff leaves, what is she waiting for? Every time I see her I give an eager smile but it’s as if she’s forgotten about wanting to talk to me and seems to run in the opposite direction when she sees me.
In the tiny kitchen at the back of the open plan office I catch the whiff of damp. It’s coming from me. I hadn’t been able to dry off properly since the van incident. It’s no wonder Danielle keeps avoiding me. I decide to go up to the Kilburn High Road at lunch time. Have a complete wardrobe revamp and spray on a gallon of Daisy Eau de Cologne from the samples in the pharmacy. There are only two boutiques for women on the High Road and a Clarks Outlet Store but I’ll take my chances.
By the time I get back to work I’m in a new pair of power trousers, a white blouse and stilettos. I look every part the sub-editor and I smell like a perfume factory. I pull my hair into a tight pony tail before we make our way to the restaurant and bar for Geoff’s farewell drink. As the evening wears on my lipstick has rubbed away, my pony tail has given me a headache, my feet were killing me and I can’t see Danielle anywhere.
Up at the bar later Rani is Googling night cubs and I’m reapplying my lipstick. Out of nowhere Danielle sidles up to me and smiles.
‘Sydney, how are you?’ she slurs.
‘Good. All good. How are you Danielle? It’s a shame we’re losing Geoff, don’t you think? And can you believe this weather today? Summer is my favourite season. What’s yours?’
Danielle looks flummoxed because who talks about the weather at a time like this and why didn’t I stick to just one question at a time? But it’s almost eleven and if I have to spend one more second trying to sip wine so that my lipstick won’t wear off I’ll go mad.
‘Sydney,’ she says after an interminable pause.
‘Yes, Danielle?’ I grin, happily.
‘The label on your trousers is still attached. £35.99. That’s not bad.’
I look down and try tucking it into the waistband.
‘Thanks, Danielle but didn’t you have something you wanted to tell me?’
‘Oh yes. I was a bit busy today so I didn’t get round to giving you a heads up. As you’re one of the old guard I wanted to let you now about Rebecca.’
‘Rebecca?’
‘Yes, I just told Rebecca the sub-editor job is hers if she wants it and she’s letting me know tomorrow. Night-night.’
‘Night-night,’ I say in a voice two tones higher than my usual register. I turn to look at Rebecca who is deep in conversation with Geoff.
‘You coming to the club?’ Rani asks.
‘Wait, what? Look, I just got the news about Rebecca.’
‘Good isn’t it?’
‘Well not really Rani, I was hoping it would be me.’ Rani looks at me as if I have two heads. ‘What?’
‘No offence, Syd but I never for one moment thought you were interested. You’ve got your head in the clouds most of the time and the rest of the time you’re looking for a new job. Danielle’s not stupid. She has noticed.’
‘But …’
It is true. I am always dreaming of something more, something better. I just didn’t realise it showed on the outside that I was unhappy at work. Everyone around me is doing so well. Helena is worth a million plus her fiancé has money growing from a tree somewhere. Rob makes a tidy sum and he was promoted to junior partner in a career he’d known he wanted for the longest of times. Of course I wanted more. At least the sub-editor job would have been a start.
‘So you coming clubbing or what?’ Rani goes on.
‘No. No, thanks, Rani. I think I’ll give it a miss.’
I leave shortly after going to the toilet and rubbing off my lipstick in disgust. Stuff them all, I think on the way out. I’ll go home and write that best-selling novel I always wanted to write.

About the Author

Rosa Temple is the pseudonym of published author, Fran Clark.
To date, Fran has penned and self published four publications as Rosa Temple; Sleeping With Your Best Friend, Natalie’s Getting Married, Single by Christmas and Sleeping With Your Best Friend.
HQ Digital (Harper Collins) has published three books in Fran’s pseudonym, Rosa Temple. The first was Playing by the Rules in February 2017 followed by Playing Her Cards Right on 28th August 2017 and Playing for Keeps on 12th February 2018.
A mother of two, Fran is married to a musician and recently moved from London to Herefordshire. She spends her days creating characters and story lines while drinking herbal tea and eating chocolate biscuits.

Website:
https://www.rosatemple.co.uk/

Twitter:
@RosaT_Author

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

Would you like to win an ebook copy of Dear…Anybody? ?

It’s easy and free to enter. The giveaway ends on Monday 20th April. The draw will take place straight after but only winners will be notified.

Please click on the link below which directs you to the author’s website and link for the giveaway.  Good Luck!

https://www.rosatemple.co.uk/post/the-dear-anybody-e-book-giveaway

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds by Nick Albert @Nickalbertautho @rararesources #blogtour #bookextract #memoir

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds written by Nick Albert, publisher Ant Press, is available NOW in ebook, kindleunlimited, audiobook and paperback format.

Book Blurb
Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Purchase Links –
UK
Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075NY9BNN/
Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1977611605
Audible: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1977611605
USA
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075NY9BNN/
Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1977611605
Audible: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1977611605

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds Full Tour Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting Nick Albert’s debut novel: Fresh Eggs & Dog Beds.  I have the pleasure of sharing an extract.

An exclusive excerpt from Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds book 1 for Kraftireader.

This scene occurred a few days after we moved to our new home in Ireland. It involves our little Lhasa Apso dog Romany.

Shortly after moving into Glenmadrie, we realised there was a problem with our drains. The water flowed slowly from the bath and sinks, and there was a pervading smell of bad eggs whenever we ran a tap. I soon figured out there was a blockage somewhere in the confusion of old drainpipes that took the wastewater from the bathroom, via the kitchen sink, and out through the wall towards the cesspit.
Even though I had plans to replace the pipework as a part of the renovations, that task was still many months away and in the meantime, we needed to get rid of the blockage. A drain auger would not work as the pipe was 40 feet long with several branches. We had tried using a toilet plunger without success, and even the strongest drain cleaning chemicals had done nothing more than add to the smell. However, a little research and a trip to the hardware superstore in Limerick resulted in me purchasing an air-bust drain cleaner. This handy toy is a tall can of compressed air, with an attachment rather like a sink plunger, which sends a rapid blast of carbon dioxide gas down the drain, instantly clearing any obstruction. To ensure the gas drives the blockage safely outside, and not back up the nearest sink, all intermediate plugholes and overflows must be firmly sealed before letting fly with the explosive blast.
Early the next morning, Lesley and I began preparations for our drain clearing extravaganza. It was a lovely morning, warm and sunny, so Romany soon lost interest in what we were doing. In an effort to keep out from under our feet, she wandered off into the garden to do some sunbathing.
With a little twisting, a skinned knuckle, and the careful application of some swear words, I removed the downwards section of the outside drainpipe, to permit the blockage an unrestricted path to freedom. Indoors, I had used duct tape to cover all of the overflows and all but two of the plugholes. Lesley would block one with half a tennis ball and the other would be the recipient for the air-blast. Hopefully, the violent rush of gas would follow the path of least resistance, along the 40 feet of drainpipe and out through the wall, taking along with it the foul crud that had accumulated during the previous 50 years.
After a final check to ensure everything was sealed, we moved to our allotted stations. I was in the upstairs bathroom ready to fire the gas down the bathtub plughole and Lesley was blocking the kitchen sink plughole, by leaning as hard as possible on her half-tennis ball. I shouted down to check she was ready, and, after an overly dramatic countdown, I braced myself and released the gas.
At my end the results were disappointingly anticlimactic. In the space of two seconds, the gas went down the plughole with a sound like a geriatric steam engine whispering, ‘CHEW’. Further along the pipe, Lesley heard something that sounded like a subway train rushing by. She was delighted when it continued along the drainpipe, rather than attempting to escape around her half-tennis ball. A moment later, we both heard what sounded like an overfed elephant with dysentery, failing to make it to the toilet in time. I ran some water into the sink and was delighted to see it disappear down the plughole, without the usual smell or sluggishness. Downstairs, I proudly gave Lesley a high-five. Result! Or so we thought.
A few moments later, as I stepped outside ready to sweep up the mess, I was mortified to discover our once-white dog, sitting miserably in a pool of foul water and covered in the most obnoxious grey filth one can imagine. Unfortunately, Romany had heard the approaching commotion and decided to investigate the source of the noise by sticking her nose into the open drainpipe – which was conveniently situated at exactly the right height for our little dog. A moment later, her curiosity was rewarded when she was hit by the full contents of the 50 year old blocked drain, containing a combination of toothpaste, lost hair, toenail clippings, kitchen grease, and God knows what else. The dirt and smell was almost unbearable, but it soon washed away. However, for many weeks after, Romany continued to glower at me in the unwavering certainty I had deliberately showered her in filth.

Author Bio –
Fresh Eggs Author ireland 3 004Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020.
Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Social Media Links:
https://www.amazon.com/Nick-Albert/e/B00B0126PU/
https://www.facebook.com/author.nick.albert
https://www.facebook.com/NickAlbertAuthor/
https://www.nickalbert.co.uk/
https://www.instagram.com/nickalbertauthor/

Twitter:  @Nickalbertautho
http://nickalbert.allauthor.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6886008.Nick_Albert
https://nickalbertauthor.blogspot.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkJbnDhXu73jaDz4vqIpK0w/

A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K Smith @NicolaKSmith @rararesources #blogtour #extract

A Degree front cover

A Degree of Uncertainty written by Nicola K Smith, publisher Compass Publishing, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Degree-Uncertainty-Nicola-Smith-ebook/dp/B0825Y8PTS
US – https://www.amazon.com/Degree-Uncertainty-Nicola-Smith-ebook/dp/B0825Y8PTS

Book Blurb
A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…
Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto — and many residents and students are relying on him.
But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.
As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least the need to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.
There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…

A Degree of Uncertainty Full Tour Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Nicola K Smith debut novel: A Degree of Uncertainty.  I have the pleasure of sharing an extract.

A DEGREE OF UNCERTAINTY by Nicola K Smith
(Extract from Chapter 3)
This extract shows Vice Chancellor, Dawn Goldberg in her element as she sets out her plans to push through the expansion of Poltowan University.

Dawn Goldberg took four deliberate paces towards the corner of her well-appointed office, over-looking the gardens between her and the digital animation studios. In the middle of the lawns, white-tinged under a thin covering of frost, stood a huge statue of a naked man, paint brush held over an imaginary easel, chin angled, deep in thought.
She had commissioned it the year before from a former student who had recently won a prize from some well-respected arts body looking to recognise future talent. It had caused quite a stir, and not only within the walls of the university. The Poltowan Post had featured it on its front page under the headline ‘Naked Ambition?’, and run it alongside a photo of a smiling Dawn Goldberg with the quote, “It is art, not porn.” The furore that followed had only served to highlight the ignorance of so many people, she thought, who worked themselves into an irrational frenzy when presented with the magnificent male form.
She looked at it, a seagull perched audaciously upon the statue’s head, and smiled. She liked to call it Michael, for reasons she could not now recall. The statue was angled in such a way that she could fully appreciate his ample manhood, almost as if he were standing there for her pleasure alone. She would often practise her speeches on him, looking to him for some sign of en-dorsement, which he invariably gave.
She twisted around to face the three actual men sitting before her, tossing her head in the shaft of winter sunlight and imagining how the newly applied golden-red colours – “bur-nished gold” her hairdresser had called the shade – would be lending her an almost angelic hue. Her father’s photograph gazed up at her from the wooden frame on her desk, his characteristically am-biguous expression suggesting that he too thought the men in front of her were buffoons, hardly worthy of her time, and certainly not deserving of her patience.
Slowly she began to launch into what she called her “future strategy”, outlining her plans to win over the people who mattered, changing hearts and minds. It was, after all, only a mat-ter of time before her plans for the enlargement of the university received the go ahead.
Andy Hornblower shifted in his seat, mouth visibly twitching, occasionally opening for a few seconds before slowly shutting again like a soft-closing bin. Each time his fat lips threat-ened to utter a sound, Dawn raised her voice slightly, sometimes lifting her finger in the air as if leading a dog obedience class.
The other two men listened enraptured, the angle of their heads mimicking hers as her curls danced around her bespectacled face. Andy cleared his throat during one of Dawn’s rare pauses for breath, summoning the courage to speak.
‘I’ve prepared some detailed plans along the lines of the actions you suggested, Dawn.’ He raised the carefully bound document he had been clutching in his lap. ‘I’ll leave it with you, but I think you’ll find it adds a bit of meat to the bone, shall we say, dots the i’s, crosses the t’s. And I’ve provisionally scheduled a meeting with Carrie Menhenick at Poltowan Council, she’s—’
‘I don’t think that will be necessary Andy.’ Dawn spun around to see the seagull hop down to Michael’s nether regions, its tiny eyes darting left and right as if it knew it was pushing the boundaries of social acceptability.
‘I have just outlined exactly how the manifesto will take shape, and we needn’t waste our time on the local Council. It’s the County Council who will have the final say. Luke, you get on to the local press, gauge the mood, see what they’re planning. Jowan, you research every pos-sible line of objection and find a rebuttal as to why it’s unsound. Andy, you oversee both and report back to me once we have a watertight strategy. I, meanwhile, am leveraging my contacts in the na-tional press and at the County Council.’ She rolled the l seductively and brought her hands together as if in prayer when she’d finished speaking.
‘I really do think you should reconsider holding a meeting with Harry Manchester…’ muttered Andy.
‘I saw him last week,’ said Dawn, her voice rising an octave. ‘And I don’t need to see that loathsome gawping man from that snivelling little industry again.’
‘But, Dawn, we should remember he wields considerable local influence, and after contriving to let him find out about our expansion plans on live TV, I think it might be wise to…’
Dawn crossed the office floor quickly, her sturdy legs striding into the shadows where Andy sat. Her painted finger was held aloft, her eyes wide. ‘And I rather think that this meeting is closed.’ She paused for a moment after she’d made her announcement, relishing her abil-ity to bring instantaneous quiet upon the room.
‘One other thing—’ Andy said, exhaling as if a captor had finally removed tape from his mouth. Dawn glared down at him, her finger still raised. He seemed unaware of quite how close to the wind he was sailing. ‘Dave White has written an open letter to Kernow Click. It’s online now. Might be a good idea for you have a look – in case you want to respond?’
She glowered at him.
‘When I was in the police,’ he continued, ‘it was always considered best practice to—’
‘You are not in the force now, PC Hornblower.’
Jowan coughed. Luke studied the worn-down heels of his shoes.
‘Well, I wasn’t actually a PC, as you know, I worked—’
‘Off you go, gents. No time to waste.’
Dawn sat behind her desk as the last of them filed out. It pleased her to see Luke and Jowan’s admiring glances, their eyes dipping towards her cleavage as she spoke. Sometimes she wondered if this was how an actor felt, strutting across the stage in front of a worshipful audience, everybody hanging on their every word, eyes unable to disguise the marvel they felt at the genius before them.

Author Bio

A Degree Author Nic-1Nicola K Smith is a freelance journalist contributing to a number of titles including the The Times, Guardian.co.uk, BBC.co.uk, BBC Countryfile and Sainsbury’s Magazine. She lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, a town which inspired A Degree of Uncertainty, although it is set in the fictional Cornish town of Poltowan.

Social Media Links –
Twitter: @NicolaKSmith
Instagram: Nicolaksmith740
Facebook: @NicolaKSmith74

Giveaway to Win 10 x A Degree of Uncertainty (Open to UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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