#GuestPost SUMMER AT SEASPRAY COTTAGE by ANGELA BRITNELL #Extract #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @AngelaBritnell

Hello and welcome to Books and Me! Today I have the pleasure of handing over the Blog to the lovely ANGELA BRITNELL as she shares an extract with you to help celebrate publication day for the fabulous SUMMER AT SEASPRAY COTTAGE

Over to you Angela…

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RELEASE DAY POST: Summer at Seaspray Cottage by Angela Britnell

It’s lovely to be here again, Karen and thank you so much for inviting me to stop by on publication day my new release – Summer at Seaspray Cottage. The story is set primarily in my home county of Cornwall and Chough Cove is inspired by Mevagissey, the small fishing village where my mother grew up. I thought your readers might enjoy a small taste of the book so have picked out an extract for them. To set up the story: Thea Armitage has inherited her aunt’s cottage in Chough Cove and returned to Cornwall for the first time since she was a teenager. Harry Venton has also landed back in Chough Cove and this time he’s determined not to be driven out by either public opinion or the father he hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. Much to the dismay of many villagers he’s building a house and is there to stay. To say he’s shocked to come literally face to face again with the woman he’s never been able to forget – no matter how hard he’s tried – is an understatement of massive proportions ………………

‘Mr H, are you going to sign for this or stare into space all day?’ Jacko poked Harry’s arm and pointed at the waiting delivery driver.

Harry grabbed the tablet and used his finger to scrawl something resembling his name on the screen. Maybe he was a dinosaur but he preferred a pen and paper over these techy gadgets that made everyone look illiterate. ‘Cheers.’ He strolled away to check out the long planks of wood stacked up on the ground.

‘Bit dark aren’t they?’ Jacko came to stand by him, frowning.

‘They’re exactly what I wanted. They’re perfect.’ He stroked the weathered grey cedar. ‘Doesn’t it remind you of the ocean on a winter’s day?’

‘I suppose.’ The builder smirked. ‘Bloody freezing and blowing a gale you mean?’

Harry gave up trying to explain his vision for the house he’d been planning for years now.

‘I’ll get the lads to help me shift it all tomorrow.’ Jacko pulled out his car keys. ‘You coming for a pint? The wife’s got her book club meeting at our place so I’m staying out ’til they’re gone.’ He chuckled. ‘They’ll talk the hind legs off a donkey and none of it about the book.’

‘Cheers but not right now. There’s a few things I want to wrap up here. I might stop by later.’ It would sound rude to say all he wanted was to be left alone. Harry loved nothing better than seizing the chance to walk around his new property when no one else was about. These quiet times gave him the chance to study the progress they’d made and decide where he might want to make any changes.

Jacko tipped him a nod and ambled over to his dilapidated white van. Harry kept his fingers crossed this wouldn’t be one of the many days when the ancient van refused to start but it rumbled to life and drove off belching diesel fumes.

As it often did his gaze drifted to the row of old terraced houses on the opposite side of Polmorva Road and picked out the one on the far left with its fresh yellow paint where he grew up with his father. There were few fond childhood memories associated with the place. Georgie Venton had hated his son. Day after day, year after year he made Harry pay for causing his beloved wife’s death in childbirth. With the benefit of maturity, Harry had tried to understand the mind of a man maddened by grief but couldn’t yet find it in him to forgive. Since they started building he frequently spotted his father’s stooped figure standing by the door but he wasn’t there today. He felt a satisfaction deep in his gut at forcing Georgie to see how successful his son had become despite his tough beginnings.

With a smile he turned back to the half-completed building. Venton House. Perhaps it was vain to put his name on his new home but he’d earned his money the hard way so why shouldn’t he indulge himself for once? He pushed away a niggle of misgiving and studied the curved iron

framework sweeping across the front of the house, ready for installation of the floor to ceiling glass highlighted in thin strips of black wood that would front his kitchen and living space. The expansive view over the harbour and on out to sea would be second to none.

The boards that arrived today were destined for shingling the outside of the house so it would blend seamlessly with the environment around, picking up colour from the granite cliffs beneath and on stormy days the steel-grey skies and choppy waters. He’d steered as far as possible away from the jaunty nautical look beloved of so many coastal homes with their fake anchors and cheerful blue and white soft furnishings. Venton House’s design was deliberately stripped down and elemental. Harry quirked a smile. An ex-girlfriend once described him in a similar albeit less polite way.

Harry’s stomach growled and he struggled to remember if he’d eaten today. Jacko had offered him one of the mountain of doorstep sandwiches his wife packed him off with every morning but he’d been too impatient to stop working. Perhaps he should go for a pint with the builder after all and grab something to eat at the pub.

The stiff breeze whipping in off the sea made him shiver in his T-shirt and shorts. Although it was the beginning of June and summer in Chough Cove the difference between the sheltered harbour and up here on the exposed cliff was often night and day. In the middle of winter when there was no hiding from the worst of the weather his house would need every bit of its expensive underfloor heating system.

Harry bestowed one last quiet, satisfied smile on the half-finished building and strode off down the road. A few people nodded as he passed them by but no one stopped to speak. He told himself their reticence didn’t bother him because if his hard upbringing taught him one thing it was patience. Once they recognised he was here to stay and wanted to do his part to benefit the community he hoped they’d come around.

Strings of coloured lights twinkled against the external whitewashed walls of The Dolphin and the door stood open, allowing a constant stream of people to go in and out. The throbbing music and loud laughter drifting out set him on edge and he changed his mind about joining Jacko. He leaned on the harbour wall instead and rested his arms on the rough, uneven stones. The tide was creeping back in so the orderly lines of fishing and pleasure boats bobbed around like corks.

A peal of raucous laughter rang out behind him.

‘The fish and chips are gonna be my treat. Don’t argue.’

A woman’s drawling American accent made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

‘God you always were a bossy cow!’

The second voice he’d recognise anywhere. Kelsey Nancarrow. His oldest friend in the village who now avoided him whenever possible, only exchanging a polite nod if their paths unavoidably crossed. Her late grandmother, Vera, had been the Ventons’ next-door neighbour in Polmorva Terrace and took care of both Harry and Kelsey when they were young and their parents were all at work. They remained close as they got older until they were sixteen. It’d never occurred to him that Kelsey saw him as anything more than a good friend but apparently he’d been wrong and his rejection struck her hard.

‘Watch where you’re going,’ Kelsey yelled.

Harry jerked around as a woman barrelled into him and he automatically clamped his hands on her arms so she wouldn’t knock them both over. Her head flew up and the wide silver-green eyes with their fringe of soot-black lashes that’d haunted his dreams for years flared with shock. Thea Armitage stared at him as though she’d seen a ghost.

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So what happens next? Should they give each other a second chance or let the proverbial sleeping dogs lie? You’ll have to read the rest of the book to find out…

Thank you again for being such a wonderful supporter of my trans-Atlantic romances and I look forward to returning for a chat when my next book is released – a Christmas story involving a pantomime that is still a work in progress at the moment!

About the Book:

What would you do if you inherited a Cornish cottage by the sea?

If you’re Thea Armitage, sell it as soon as possible. Whilst there’s no denying that Seaspray Cottage has its charm, it just holds too many bad memories for Thea to consider keeping it – although at least spending the summer preparing it for sale gives her a distraction from troubles back home in Tennessee.

What Thea didn’t count on was her worst Cornish memory moving in right next door. Local bad boy Harry Venton played no small part in Thea’s decision never to return to Cornwall twenty years before – and now he’s her neighbour! Could things get any worse?

Except Harry isn’t the boy he was, and as Thea comes to realise that her opinion of him was built on lies and misunderstandings, perhaps things will start looking up for her summer at Seaspray Cottage …

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3uqkiry 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3bNvGar

 Apple Books: https://apple.co/3QbBfz9 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3QeSW0H

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About the Author:

Angela was born in St. Stephen, Cornwall, England. After completing her A-Levels she worked as a Naval Secretary. She met her husband, a US Naval Flight Officer, while being based at a small NATO Headquarters on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark. They lived together in Denmark, Sicily, California, southern Maryland and London before settling in Franklin, Tennessee.

Angela took a creative writing course in 2000 and loved it so much that she has barely put her pen down since. She has had short stories and novels published in the US. Her novel Sugar & Spice, won Choc Lit’s Search for an American Star competition and was her UK debut.

Follow Angela on Twitter: @AngelaBritnell

 Like Angela on Facebook: Angela Britnell

#GuestPost A VACANCY FOR A VILLAGE VET by JOANNE BODEN #Extract #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @JoBodenAuthor

Hello!! Welcome to Books and Me!  And today I have the pleasure of sharing an exclusive extract with you to help celebrate Publication Day for the fabulous A VACANCY FOR A VILLAGE VET by JOANNE BODEN.   The link to grab your copy is posted below too so treat yourself!! You won’t regret it!!

Release Day Extract: A Vacancy for a Village Vet by Joanne Boden 

A Vacancy for a Village Vet is a cosy new contemporary romance from Joanne Boden – a book about second chances, making peace with your past and plenty of pets, of course! To celebrate publication day, we thought we’d share an exclusive extract from the very beginning of the book – kindly hosted by Karen on her blog – where everything is about to change for Daniel and Hannah … 

‘You’ll come back, won’t you?’  

Daniel pulled Hannah towards him and closed his eyes. He couldn’t look at her, couldn’t bear to look into those smokey grey eyes and see nothing but sadness and hurt. He inhaled her strawberry shampoo, felt her breath on his neck. She couldn’t see his face. He wouldn’t cause her pain by allowing her to see the lie that lay beneath the surface.  

‘I’ll be back,’ he said, unable now to stop those words, his throat tight and dry. He stroked her flyaway blonde waves that could never be tamed and rested his hand on the back of her head.  

‘And you’ll write to me every day?’ she asked.  

He heard the uncertainty in the shaking of her words. Her hands now clung to his , nails digging into his skin. 

He wanted to slow time. To stay in this moment forever. They’d agreed to write proper letters, not quick texts or emails, although of course they could. “Handwritten letters are much more romantic” she said. They reminded her of the olden days. Of “Elizabeth and Mr Darcy”.  

‘I’ll write to you,’ he said. His fingers twisted in her hair. 

He wanted to believe that he would. 

A car horn sounded. His mother popped her head out of the half-lowered window, followed by a plume of cigarette smoke. ‘Daniel,’ she hollered, ‘we need to get going.’  

He exhaled slowly, felt Hannah’s shoulders relax slip away from him as she stepped back. She swiped a finger across her eyes. A smear of black mascara followed in its wake. She gave him a slow, sad smile. 

He reclosed the gap between them and hisis fingers traced her cheekbones as he dipped his head to give her one last, tender kiss on the lips.  

Eyes were on them. He wished with every breath in his body that they were alone. 

“You’re only kids”, his mum had told him, when she announced she’d be moving to London with her shiny new husband, although none of this was David Brewer’s fault. Daniel liked him. He hadn’t pretended to be a substitute father. After all, he had a grandfather for that. David had made that perfectly clear.  

But they were all wrong. Yes, he was only fifteen, nearly sixteen, but he knew his own mind and heart, knew what he felt in his bones and blood and muscles. And he loved Hannah. His mother had laughed when he shared that bit of news with her, his cheeks flaming and his heart pounding with this shared intimacy. “You’ll fall in love a dozen times – it’s part of growing up.” And then more forcefully when he’d told her Hannah was important to him – “You don’t know what love is at your age!” when he’d told her Hannah was important to him.  

She told him with a faraway look in her eyes that she had fallen in love at sixteen, and look where that had landed her – almost as an afterthought she’d quickly added she wouldn’t have changed having him for the world. But he’d seen the stark truth in those words. She’d have changed things in a heartbeat. Back then at least, maybe not now. That boy she had loved was long gone, married twice since then, and with four kids to his name, not including Daniel. He had never been a part of his life. 

“Stay or go” his mother told him, giving him a choice. The decision was his, and his alone. Go to London, or stay here in Middlefern with Gerald. “It’s up to you. You’re nearly sixteen, old enough to make up your own mind”. But apparently not old enough to know if he was in love with a girl he had loved all of his short life. 

There was no choice. There had never been a choice. 

He couldn’t stay in Middlefern, not under the same roof as Gerald. He’d briefly toyed with the idea of asking Kathy, Hannah’s mum, if he could stay with them, but that, he knew, would only lead to more questions, none of which he could answer. The main one being, why couldn’t he stay with Gerald? 

If he left he knew he could never come back, not while Gerald lived and worked in the village. He could never return.  

So he did what he had to do. He lied and told Hannah he would do all of those things. His final act of kindness before breaking her heart. 

‘It’s time to go, son.’ Gerald stood on the threshold to his veterinary practice, arms folded across his broad chest, a slight sneer spread across his face. Daniel’s hands curled into tight fists. He refused to turn around. He would not look at him. He’d never have to look at him again.  

Gerald sauntered past them and stopped at the side of the car. He peered in through the passenger window. ‘You got everything, Samantha?’ he asked. 

She nodded. ‘Yes, and thank you, for everything.’ 

‘Take care of yourself, and phone me when you get there.’ 

Gerald opened the passenger door. ‘Time to go now, son,’ he shouted in Daniel’s direction. 

Daniel’s jaw tensed as he reached for Hannah’s hand. ‘I’ll write soon,’ he said. Another lie. 

‘Promise.’ 

‘Promise.’ He very nearly choked on the word. His final act of betrayal. 

He turned to go, but she grabbed his arm and pressed something cold and hard into the palm of his hand.  

‘Don’t look now,’ she whispered. ‘Look later, in the car.’ 

He nodded, unable to formulate any words.  

He turned towards the car, averting his eyes so he wouldn’t see Gerald. 

Kathy placed her arm around her daughter’s shoulder. The two of them like statues, silently watching him go.  

‘Bye, son,’ Gerald said as he grabbed Daniel’s arm, forcing him to stop. 

Daniel looked at his shoes, taking solace in this small victory. 

‘Look after your mum for me,’ Gerald growled. 

Daniel shook his arm free and unfolded his long, lean body into the car. He shut the door without turning to face the old man. Instead he looked at his mother. 

‘Ready love?’ she asked. 

‘Yeah.’ 

‘She’ll be okay, you know. So will you.’ 

‘I hope so,’ he said. He had a chance at a brand new start. Away from Middlefern and away from him. He just wished Hannah could be a part of that new start. Maybe in time she could join him. Travel to London. She could go to university there, as they’d planned. Maybe they could buy a flat. Move in together. It was possible. Anything was possible, wasn’t it? 

But even as he had these fleeting thoughts he knew it was a fantasy.  

This was the end. 

Time to move on.  

He would forget and so would she. Given time. 

The car pulled away from the kerbside. 

Hannah lifted a hand to wave, but it slowly dropped as she hugged her arms around her body. He saw Kathy raise her hand to stroke her daughter’s hair. The image became smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror. He observed the whispering of words that he could not hear. 

His fingers unfurled and in his palm he found half a heart. A locket made of sterling silver. He turned it over. There was no engraving, just smooth metal, the size of a ten pence piece. It took several seconds before it hit him like a punch to the gut. He had half, Hannah the other. Two halves of one heart, forever broken. 

From: A Vacancy for a Village Vet by Joanne Boden 

© Joanne Boden 

About the Book: 

From big city high-flyer to little village vet … 

Hannah and Daniel were teenage sweethearts, but then Daniel left their sleepy village of Middlefern and his grandfather’s veterinary practice behind for the bright lights of London. 

Now, fifteen years later, the prodigal grandson has returned to temporarily take over the village practice with a veterinary qualification and his dog, Sammy, in tow. Daniel is ready for rabbits with tummy aches, guinea pigs who’ve lost their squeak, plenty of cow complaints and a whole lot of memories – both good and bad. But is he ready to see Hannah again? 

Of course, a high-flying city vet like Daniel was never planning to stay in Middlefern for good – especially given his history with the place. But could another, even more important, vacancy convince him to change his mind?

Buying links: 


Kindle: https://amzn.to/3xTZ2eT  

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3tH4Wyv 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3vqlJqF  

Nook: https://bit.ly/3y2bM4O  

About the Author: 



Joanne lives in Lancashire with her husband and their two sons. When she is not busy writing, she likes to take her boys to the local museums, cafes and for walks in the countryside. Joanne has published 4 non-fiction works aimed at parenting children on the Autistic spectrum, based upon her experiences as a mother of an autistic son.  

Joanne also writes contemporary romances with gorgeous heroes. 

Find out more about Joanne here: 

https://www.facebook.com/JoBodenAuthor

#GuestPost #Extract A BURNING LIE by CLAIRE SHELDON #PublicationDay @RubyFiction @ChocLituk

Delighted to be with you today to share an extract from the amazing new thriller from CLAIRE SHELDON!  It’s publication Day for A BURNING LIE and this is another one of those books that you NEED in your library!!  Links to buy down below!!

Release Day Extract: A Burning Lie by Claire Sheldon

A Burning Lie is the third book in the gripping ‘Lisa Carter’ series by thriller author Claire Sheldon, published by Ruby Fiction. To celebrate publication day, here’s an exclusive extract from the beginning of the book. Just what are DI Chris Jackson and Jen Garner going to have to deal with this time? You’re sure to want to find out after reading this!

‘Come on, Gabe.’ Dean raced up the stairs towards where the band were playing.

‘Slow down! I’m coming, I’m coming.’ Light emanated from the stage as the lead singer of the young support band sang. ‘See, I told you there was no need to rush. The support band’s still playing,’ Gabe said as he caught up with Dean, who was now standing in the doorway and looking excitedly into the packed hall.

‘I just want to make sure we can get to our usual spot,’ Dean replied, grabbing Gabe’s hand. They made their way through the packed room, where everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder and any space they could find would come at a premium. As they continued to squeeze their way past people, Gabe suddenly noticed a strange smell.

‘Can you smell that?’ he shouted towards Dean, who was too preoccupied in trying to get them a prime spot. It’s probably just someone’s perfume, he thought, as Dean continued to pull him along, but it didn’t really smell like perfume exactly. It was sort of citrusy though …

‘Sorry, sorry, excuse me.’ Dean stopped, turned and looked at him. ‘Here we go.’

‘Dean, I can’t move, let alone breathe!’ Gabe protested, looking around at all the people they had displaced just to get into the middle of the room.

‘Once the support band comes off, there’ll be plenty of space. Everyone heads to the bar, remember?’

Gabe hoped so, but this was a sold-out concert. He couldn’t help but feel uneasy, although he had no idea why; there seemed to be strange atmosphere tonight, and he didn’t think it was just to do with the other revellers Dean had annoyed in his quest to get to their spot.

‘Who’s ready for the McDermitts?’ the support band singer shouted, causing people to scream with excitement and surge forward, pushing Gabe and Dean as they did.

Gabe really hoped that Dean was right about the crowd thinning out. Right now, he was starting to feel a little bit trapped …

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DI Chris Jackson

Thursday night

‘Good evening, Inspector.’ Chris scrunched his eyes closed and opened them again as he listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. ‘I’m phoning to tell you that there have been reports of a series of explosions in the centre of Nottingham. We’ve been instructed to call your team in.’

‘Where are we needed?’ Chris jumped up from his sofa and then regretted it as the room immediately started spinning. He was forced to sit down again as a sense of dread descended over him.

‘Detective Inspector Shufflebotham is on the scene as SIO and has asked that you make your way to the main entrance of the university.’

‘All received. I’ll be there.’ Chris got up more slowly from the sofa. It didn’t help that he now felt sick from the thought of what he might be facing once he got into Nottingham. He’d seen the aftermath of enough fires to know what could await him, and what was worse was it was likely to be young people involved this time.

He had spent the previous afternoon in a MRI scanner at the Queen’s Medical Centre, having his brain and spinal cord assessed for signs of what was causing the symptoms that were now part of his daily existence. It was becoming a regular occurrence: he’d previously been rushed in for an emergency MRI scan after going to see his doctor with rising concerns about dizziness and headaches. Six months on, he was still haunted by the grainy image of the white mass that had appeared on the original scans. As a result, he was now under investigation for a potentially life-altering disease that could change everything about his current existence. Both him and his consultant knew what was coming, but the reality of it all was too scary to think about …

Leaving his cat a plate of food, Chris grabbed his backpack and rushed out of his flat. As he drove his car out of the underground car park and towards Nottingham, he turned on his radio in hope there would be some information about what was happening on the local news broadcasts – though it didn’t seem to have filtered through just yet. He joined the almost empty A52 and made his way into the city to meet the team, where they’d hopefully all find out what the hell was going on. His medical worries would just have to wait, just like they had already been waiting for the past two years.

Jen Garner

Jen had to force her eyes to stay open as she attempted to locate where the ringing noise was coming from before it woke anyone else up – the kids being her main concern. She felt completely shattered, having completed her first day back at work with Nottingham’s Special Ops team under DI Chris Jackson. She’d previously worked a case with Chris and her old team, which had become the catalyst for getting her back into full time policing.

‘Detective Garner, it’s control. Sorry to disturb you this early.’

‘What’s going on?’ Is it normal to be called in the early hours on the second day of a new job?

‘I’m afraid there’s been a serious incident in Nottingham and your assistance has been requested at the university. DI Jackson will meet you there.’

‘Okay, I’ll head in now,’ Jen said as she got out of bed and stretched. Well, this is what I signed up for, what I wanted … isn’t it?

‘James,’ she whispered.

‘Eh?’ came the typical half-asleep response.

‘I’ve got to go into work. Something’s kicked off and we’ve all been called in. Will you make sure the kids get to school? I’ll get back as soon as I can.’ Not bothering to wait for a reply, she leant over and kissed him. ‘Love you.’

Jen rushed down the stairs as the adrenaline hit. She hadn’t been expecting anything big to happen here in Nottingham; her new boss had already warned her that this was “local-level policing” and not what she had been used to in the past. She threw on her jacket and then was out of the door, into the car and on her way to the city and whatever awaited her there.

From: A Burning Lie by Claire Sheldon

© Claire Sheldon

About the Book:

When a deadly explosion brings secrets and lies to light …

A city shaken to its foundations by a fire in a well-known music venue. A nightclub owner seemingly more concerned about money than the lives of the young people who fill the dancefloor at the end of every week. A dangerous bomber still on the loose.

All things that Detective Jen Garner must face in her first week of local level policing whilst trying to start afresh and finally make a break with her past.

Working alongside DI Chris Jackson, it’s crucial that Jen connects the dots to bring the culprit to justice. But it seems that everywhere Jen turns there is somebody with something to hide – and whilst she and her team attempt to unravel a web of lies years in the making, could the bomber be getting ready to strike again?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3wbKi9Z

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3w7Utg2

 Apple Books: https://apple.co/3MYHGTZ 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3IiEijY

About the Author:

 Claire lives in Nottingham with her family, a cat called Whiskers and a dog called Podrick. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and as a result of the disease had to reduce her hours working in insurance for an Insolvency Insurer. This spare time enabled her to study a creative writing course which inspired her to write her debut, Perfect Lie. When Claire isn’t working she enjoys reading crime novels and listening to music – the band Jimmy Eat World is her biggest muse. Claire is also an avid reader and book blogger. The inspiration for her novels comes from the hours spent watching The Bill with her grandparents and auntie; then later, Spooks and other detective programmes like Morse, A Touch of Frost and Midsomer Murders.

Find out more about Claire here:

https://www.facebook.com/clairesheldonauthor

#GuestPost KEEPING UP WITH THE KERSHAWS by HELEN BUCKLEY #Extract @ChocLituk @HelenCBuckley

So happy to be with you today to share an exclusive extract from the rather fabulous KEEPING UP WITH THE KERSHAWS by HELEN BUCKLEY, which was released yesterday. If you’ve not got your copy, WHY NOT?!!!  Go grab yours now! You will not be disappointed!! I promise!! 

Over to Helen with the exclusive extract for you to enjoy!!

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Exclusive Extract: Keeping Up with the Kershaws by Helen Buckley

Yesterday Helen Buckley celebrated the release of her fourth book with Choc Lit, Keeping up with the Kershaws – the Kershaws being a family with so much drama they could give the Kardashians a run for their money! Are you ready to meet ruthless ice queen Portia, master manipulator Gabriel, Botox fanatic Arabella, and ladies’ man Rafe, as well as poor Karrie Morgan, the devoted carer to the Kershaws’ father, who has to put up with them all? Read this extract and see if you can resist finding out what happens next …

From: Keeping Up with the Kershaws by Helen Buckley

Karrie

Karrie knocked gently on the heavy oak door. She traced the whorls of the wood with her fingertips as she waited for a reply. It often took Harold a moment to respond when he was taking his afternoon rest, and she didn’t want to rush him.

The balmy summer air breezed in from the open windows where the hallway overlooked the gardens. Karrie breathed in the scent of the grass, freshly mown that morning by the gardener. The birds were in fine voice as they serenaded the sky, an endless cornflower blue without a cloud in sight. It was the most beautiful July day and Karrie hoped Harold might like to go for a stroll in the gardens that afternoon.

Karrie rested her fingers on the door and nudged it open a little way.

‘Harold?’ she called softly. ‘It’s 4 p.m. I’ve got your tea.’

The room remained silent and dark. Karrie pushed the door open further, feeling invasive, but knowing Harold prized his routine and would need his medication soon.

She could make out a rumpled figure on the bed, seemingly undisturbed by her entrance. She went to the window and opened the heavy curtains halfway to allow the sunshine to permeate the dark cool air, and turned to Harold. The world-renowned antiquities expert lay still and quiet, curled up on top of the covers.

Karrie paused, her eyes tracing his features, taking in the slack jaw and the waxy skin, a wan pallor unusual even for a man who hated the sun. Her chest tightened and her breathing became shallow as she knew instinctively that something was very wrong. She put a hand to her mouth and tried to will herself to move forwards, but her feet wouldn’t budge.

She wanted to cry out and she opened her mouth, but she couldn’t make any sound. Instead she heaved a ragged gasp, dropping onto her knees, knowing that there was nothing to be done, knowing that from this moment on her world would be very different.

It was quite clear to Karrie that Harold Kershaw was dead.

Rafe

Rafe scowled with annoyance as his phone rang. The jarring ringtone, which he kept meaning to change, completely disrupted his focus on his eyebrows, which needed some work before his club appearance that evening. He needed to finish getting ready and he wasn’t in the mood for chit-chat.

He glanced over at the phone to see his sister’s name flashing at him, the persistent shrill ringing as irritating as seeing her name on the screen. Rafe carried on tweezing. Portia could wait.

He sighed with relief when the phone fell silent, only for it to start ringing again almost immediately. He frowned at it and set down his tweezers with a groan of frustration. He checked his appearance in the mirror, neatened a stray hair or two, and swiped the phone off the table, stabbing at the answer button.

‘Portia, I’m just in the middle of something …’ he began, but his eldest sister’s voice cut him off before he could make an excuse for dodging her calls.

‘Daddy’s dead,’ Portia announced. Though the words she said were far from ordinary, she spoke in her usual icy tone, devoid of emotion, and entirely brusque. Despite her voice being instantly recognisable, Rafe still wondered if this was a prank call, so unbelievable were the words she had just said.

‘Wait, what?’ he said. He must have heard her wrong.

Portia sighed and he could imagine her tapping her immaculate nails impatiently on the nearest hard surface.

‘Daddy’s dead,’ she repeated.

‘He’s dead,’ Rafe repeated dully.

‘Yes, that’s what I said. Dead.’

‘How? When?’ Rafe sat down on the bed, the energy draining from his legs as the news began to sink in. His chest felt heavy as he tried to take a deep breath, but all he could manage was a shallow gasp.

‘He passed away this afternoon, while he was taking his nap,’ Portia said. ‘Apparently it wasn’t painful.’

Rafe detected a slight softening in her voice as she said it. Even Portia wasn’t made entirely of stone, he thought, despite being known for her flinty nature.

‘That’s good,’ he said. The words sounded flat and odd to him, the lack of emotion in his voice not reflecting the turmoil in his head where all his thoughts were suddenly entangled with so many memories. He put a hand to his mouth as a powerful wave of sadness crashed over him, and he swallowed hard against the lump in his throat.

‘What happens now?’ he asked, knowing Portia and Gabriel would sort everything. Although he had suffered under their authoritative and manipulative dominion when he was younger, in some ways it was a relief knowing that his two eldest siblings would have everything under control at a time like this. He didn’t need, and wasn’t expected, to take responsibility. They would never have let him anyway.

‘We’re going to start making funeral arrangements. I’ll text you the details of when to come to the house to meet,’ Portia said, as if she were discussing a business meeting and this were merely a work call rather than a family tragedy. She hung up before Rafe could reply.

He sat for a moment, his hands twisting in the sheets, trying to remember the last time he had seen his dad. He felt a chill shiver of shame run through him when he realised it had been over six months ago, at Christmas. Since then he had been too busy wrapping up filming the latest series of Raised in Richmond and trying to find other projects, to visit his elderly father.

He flopped backwards onto the bed and lay down with a heavy sigh. He would have to cancel his club appearance tonight, he thought; a shame as he was really desperate for a drink right now. He reached out to the bedside table, where a glass stood with a double Scotch he had poured sometime last night and fallen asleep before drinking. It would do for this moment when he didn’t want to move off the bed. He extended his arm and grabbed the glass, tipping the tepid amber liquid down his throat with a single flick of his wrist.

He closed his eyes for a moment and thought back to Christmas, remembering how his dad’s hazel eyes, misty with cataracts, had been brightened by the candles and the Christmas lights. Rafe scrolled through the photos on his phone, looking for photos of them together, but there weren’t any recent ones. The last one he had was from two years ago at a garden party, when Raised in Richmond had the best ratings it had ever had, and his engagement to Megara was all over the magazines. He and his dad were standing side by side, clinking a glass. His dad’s usual solemn expression was lightened, a real pleasure sparkling in his eyes. Rafe would have liked to think that his dad’s joyful look was to do with the success of Raised in Richmond, but he knew that was unlikely. His dad’s happiness that day was caused by the success of his fundraiser, and not anything that Rafe had achieved.

He clicked on the photo and uploaded it to Instagram to share with his 900,000 followers, carefully choosing the best filter, cropping out a little of the background so he and his dad were framed exactly in the centre of the image.

#RIPdad. He typed the caption, and pressed Share. He waited for the inevitable slew of likes and comments and buried his face in his pillow to allow his grief to finally take hold.

© Helen Buckley

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About the Book:

What do you do when your life becomes more dramatic than reality TV?

As the devoted carer for famous antique expert Harold Kershaw, Karrie Morgan was always happy to keep a professional distance from his four spoilt grown-up children, who rarely made time for their father. But then a surprise involving Harold’s Will means Karrie is flung headlong into a press scandal, and into the chaotic world of the surviving Kershaws.

With the support of her trusted childhood friend Andrew, mild-mannered Karrie must face down ruthless ice queen Portia, master manipulator Gabriel, Botox fanatic Arabella, and ladies’ man Rafe, star of reality TV show Raised in Richmond … although perhaps not as fake and flashy as he initially seems?

As vicious rumours circulate and Karrie’s past comes back to haunt her, she struggles to know who to trust. Can she keep up with the Kershaws’ schemes?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3NkarLM

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3wyer5n 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3LjiQ0d 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3DasoYi

About the Author: 

Helen Buckley lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and two sons. After working in the charity sector in the UK and abroad, she turned her hand to writing and her first novel, Star in the Shadows, was published in 2019. She writes any moment that she can, enthralled by stories of fame, romance and happy ever afters. Apart from being addicted to writing and enjoying soft play with her sons, she’s an avid reader, action-movie fan and chocolate addict.

Find out more about Helen here:

https://www.facebook.com/Helenbuckleyauthor

https://www.instagram.com/helencatherinebuckley/

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#BlogTour A Lion is Not Just for Christmas by Henriette Gyland #bookextract #giveaway @rararesources

Delighted to be able to share an extract AND a giveaway with you today as part of this fabulous Blog Tour. My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!

About the book

Is there life after the circus has left town?

Circus performer Justine Belmont works with big cats, but when the circus is disbanded and the old lion is sold to a private menagerie at a stately home in Norfolk, she is asked to spend a few weeks settling him into his new environment. When she arrives at the estate, however, she receives a mixed welcome.

The groundsman Tom Yates resents her presence as he doesn’t feel he needs her help with the lion. He revises his opinion when he sees the bond between her and the big cat, and she and Tom grow closer, although Justine remains torn about her feelings for him. The lady of the house, Priscilla – who is married to the reclusive owner, Lord Brooks’s, grandson – is not so easily convinced. She perceives Justine as a threat for the male attention and her plans for the manor. And her two young daughters are a little too curious about the lion for their own good.

When unsettling events occur, Justine begins to wonder if there is more to Priscilla’s animosity than meets the eye. Can Justine keep herself and everyone else safe until it’s time for her to leave again and start a new life elsewhere?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the Author

Henriette Gyland grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England after she graduated from the University of Copenhagen. She wrote her first book when she was ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt, fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express. Between that first literary exploit and now, she has worked in the Danish civil service, for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist. Henriette recently began to pursue her writing in earnest winning the New Talent Award in 2011 from the Festival of Romance and a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize. Henriette lives in London.

Social Media Links – 

Website: henriettegyland.wordpress.com

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/henriette.gyland

 Twitter: @henrigyland

EXTRACT

The following scene is during the last circus performance of the season. In the ring Justine is assisting her father, Elijah, in his lion-taming act.

Then, one by one, the animals were let into the ring through a tunnel cage.

‘Behold the terrifying Rexus, straight from the African sa-a-avannah!’ intoned the MC as the lion lumbered in and found his assigned pedestal to the far left, his home-away-from-home when out of his cage.

‘Regard the fearsome tiger duo, Ajit and Mohan, the man-eaters of Ca-a-alcutta!’

Never mind that Rexus was bred in captivity and the young tiger twins came from a circus in Australia … The illusion was everything.

Ajit found his pedestal with no trouble, but Mohan snarled and clawed at Elijah’s cane, his only defence against three large predators. There was a collective gasp from the audience, and a little girl at the front, who was here with her parents and grandfather by the looks of it, climbed onto her father’s lap and promptly stuck her thumb in her mouth. The deep auburn hair of the little girl’s father shone in the circus spotlight and caught Justine’s attention. When her eyes met his – such dark, stormy blue eyes – through the bars of the cage, she nearly missed her footing and had to force her focus back on the animals.

Never turn your back on the tigers.

Elijah’s first warning to Justine when she began assisting him rang out in her head. Male lions like Rexus were easier to tame because of their usually laidback nature, but tigers were more reserved and unpredictable.

She swallowed hard as her father coaxed Mohan on to his pedestal, using soothing words, a titbit of meat, and the command ‘Platz!’ After what seemed like an age Mohan complied and sat on his pedestal with a smug grin on his face.

The audience cheered with relief, not knowing that it had been one such unruly tiger which had made Justine’s mother Beth retire from the ring and take over catering instead. With a jagged scar on her arm to prove it.

When all three cats had settled, Elijah raised his cane and said, ‘Up!’ Rexus and the tigers sat up on their hind legs with their front paws in a begging pose and stayed on their hind legs for as long as Elijah held the cane in the air. When he lowered it again, the animals sat down.

A member of the ring passed three silver balls down the tunnel cage and Justine placed each of them in front of the animals.

‘Seat!’ Elijah raised and lowered his cane to command the tigers to climb onto the ball, and at the word ‘Up!’ they raised themselves onto their hind legs, balancing on the balls. He then commanded Rexus onto his ball. The old lion did so but with a little less confidence, then when Elijah circled his finger in the air, the lion rolled the ball in a straight line to the edge of the cage grunting discontentedly, where he stopped, faltered a little when turning around, then back to his pedestal. ‘Platz!’ got him seated again.

The Irish audience responded with a roar of applause. They were every bit as appreciative as English audiences had been, more so perhaps. It made Justine’s longing for her native country bearable as she still missed touring in England.

Giveaway

Giveaway – Win a sterling silver Thomas Sabo Snowflake Charm (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 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.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494166/

GOOD LUCK!!

#BlogTour The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma by Karen King #GuestPost #Extract

Delighted to be hosting the stop today for this Blog Tour on behalf of Accent Press and Karen King!  As well as a little Guest Post by Karen herself on the inspiration for writing this book, there is also an excerpt for you to enjoy!!! 

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the bestselling author of The Cornish Hotel By The Sea 

Every summer has a story… Fun-loving travel rep Jess doesn’t want to be chief bridesmaid at her snooty cousin’s wedding, but it will cause a family feud if she refuses. She doesn’t want to fall in love either but when a raucous stag party arrives at her Majorcan hotel, Jess hits it off instantly with best man, Eddie. A summer romance is exactly what commitment-phobe Jess needs and, as the stag-do draws to a close, so does the holiday fling. She has no intentions of carrying on the summer fun but when Eddie turns up again, Jess is faced with a big dilemma.
Will this bridesmaid get the happy-ever-after she never knew she wanted…

Publisher Accent Press

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

GUEST POST

Here are Karen’s thoughts on where she got the inspiration from for writing this fabulous new release!

The inspiration for The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma came from a few sources.

I’ve often admired the stamina and friendliness of the holiday reps at the resorts I’ve been to, they seem to be on duty all day and evening and have to deal with a variety of problems and awkward guests. There was a stag party on board one of our holiday flights, they were very raucous but good-natured, and these two things formed the seeds of a story about a holiday rep having a fling with a member of a stag party staying at the hotel where she worked. Then my husband, Dave, booked a trip to Majorca for our third wedding anniversary and that was the inspiration for the setting.

I enjoyed writing this dance scene because it showed how fun-loving, outgoing and popular Jess is, and is the instigation for the growing attraction between Jess and Eddie. I got the inspiration for the scene from a nightclub Dave and I went to in Crete a few years ago. We’d got engaged that day on Santorini, and the reps at our hotel invited a group of us to the nightclub that evening. We had a fantastic time, there were bubbles and foam everywhere and a couple of the women were dancing like Jess and Libby, with a crowd around them clapping and cheering.  I love the atmosphere at clubs, where everyone looks like they’re having such a good time, and I enjoy watching people dance. I’m a people watcher – and I’ll get up and dance myself if I’ve had a couple of Bacardis!

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And now here’s a little extract from The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma for you all to enjoy!!

One of the fantastic things about being a holiday rep was the social life. That, and the sun, and all the countries she got to visit. Last season she’d been stationed in Tenerife and the season before that it had been Barcelona. It was hard work, long hours, and sometimes the rooms were pretty basic – a few times she’d had to share with another rep –but she loved the job.

Libby was dancing with Damián, Marta, and a group of holidaymakers. She waved to them and Kurt grinned.

‘Go on, I can see you’re itching to dance. I’ll go to the bar and get the drinks.’

        ‘Thanks. You’re a star,’ Jess told him, giving him a peck on the cheek then heading off to join Libby and the others. She only had a couple of hours to dance, and she intended to make the most of it.

 ***

 Eddie recognised her as soon as he walked in. The bright red hair was a dead giveaway, although now it was hanging loose around her shoulders instead of tied up in a ponytail, and she was wearing a strappy silver mini-dress rather than the yellow T-shirt and faded denim shorts she’d worn this afternoon. Very sexy. There was a carefree air about her, a suggestion that she didn’t conform, wasn’t scared to be different. It intrigued him. Jess, that’s what the hotel manager had called her.

He watched as she kissed a fair-haired guy on the cheek then went over to join a group of people dancing while the guy went up to the bar. Were they an item, he wondered. Someone as gorgeous as Jess was bound to be taken.

‘I’ll get the first round in,’ Ross said. ‘What you all having?’

‘Jack Daniels for me,’ said Greg.

Eddie tore his eyes away from Jess and followed Ross to the bar. When they returned with their drinks, a crowd had gathered around Jess and a woman with long dark hair, and people were cheering and clapping as they both danced in the middle of the floor. Jess tossed her long hair, shook her lithe hips and rocked it like there was no tomorrow. While the other woman was gyrating, twirling, twerking, you name it, her black satin halter-neck jumpsuit clinging to her body like a second skin, emphasising her long legs, slender frame and sun-tanned skin. She was pretty, in a conventional sort of way, but Jess was striking. And had curves to die for.

Greg followed his gaze. ‘Hey, isn’t that the lass who helped us sort out our rooms at the hotel?  Who’s that stunner with her?’

‘Probably another rep. Good dancers, aren’t they?’

‘Cool it, mate, getting off with a couple of chicks is not what this stag weekend is all about,’ Ross told him.

‘You might be chained, but the rest of us aren’t,’ Greg said, walking over to join the group around the two dancers.

‘It’d only be polite to say hello, she did help us out,’ Matt said, following Greg.

Ross shrugged his shoulders. ‘I guess so.’

Greg and Matt joined the circle around the two girls, clapping and stamping their feet along with the rest. Tony and Sam followed them. Ross and Eddie looked at each other, shrugged then walked over, too. When the song had finished, the crowd gave the girls resounding applause.

Eddie saw Jess glance over at him, smile and wave. Then she and her friend both walked over to the bar to get a drink.

‘Let’s go and talk to them,’ Greg said. ‘I’d like to meet the friend.’

Eddie followed him, feeling ridiculously pleased that it wasn’t Jess Greg was interested in.

 ***

‘Don’t look now, but there’s a group of guys coming over to us. And they’re pretty fit.’

Jess turned her head slightly and saw that it was Eddie and one of the others from the stag group. She’d hoped he’d come over. All the while she was dancing she felt his eyes on her. He really was something. She wouldn’t mind spending a bit of time with him.

Take it easy, he’s probably got a girlfriend, she reminded herself. In her experience, guys in stag parties were always trying it on, conveniently forgetting their girlfriend/partner back at home.

Still, as a rep at the hotel he was staying at, she had to be friendly.

‘That was some dance.’ The other man – Greg according to his T-shirt – said, his eyes on Libby. Sandy-haired, a roguish twinkle in his blue eyes, just the right amount of stubble on his chiselled-chin, the sort of smooth operator with a ‘bad lad’ air that Libby always went for but had never appealed to Jess. Good job he wasn’t the groom.

Libby, true to form, flashed him a megawatt smile. ‘Thanks.’

‘Hello again,’ He nodded at Jess, but it was obvious his attention was on Libby. ‘Thanks for helping us sort the rooms out.’ Greg was slurring his words slightly. They’d probably been drinking all afternoon and evening, taking advantage of the cheap drinks here.

‘You’re welcome,’ Jess replied. ‘Which hotel did you get sent to?’

‘The one over the road.’

‘Oh, this is the stag party you told me about,’ Libby said. ‘Now which one of you is the stag?’

‘Ross,’ Greg pointed his thumb at Ross. ‘Are you a rep at the hotel, too?’ He pointed to the name on the front of his T-shirt. ‘I’m Greg.’

‘So, I see.’ Libby shook the hand he offered. ‘I’m Libby. And yes, I’m a rep, too. Glad you managed to get your rooms sorted out. Manuel is a stickler for obeying the rules.’

‘Thanks to Jess,’ Eddie joined in. ‘We haven’t been properly introduced, have we? Hello, Jess.’ He leaned forward and kissed her on both cheeks, soft sensual lips fleetingly touching her skin, a heady waft of after-shave, warm breath enticingly close. She felt a bit dizzy.  She must have drunk more than she realised.

‘I am Édouard, Eddie.’

Édouard. She mentally rolled the name around on her tongue. Nice. It seemed a shame to shorten it.

‘Er… hi.’

‘Thank you for your help, Jess.’ Every time he spoke it sent goose bumps down her spine.

‘It was nothing,’ she replied.

Greg was looking at Libby as if he’d never seen anyone as amazing as her before. Libby often had that effect on men.

‘Let me buy you and your friend a drink to say thank you. It would have been a really difficult situation without your help.’

‘Thanks, vodka and coke please,’ Libby replied before Jess could decline. Not that she was about to, not with Eddie looking at her like that.

‘And you?’ Greg looked questioningly at Jess.

She smiled and nodded. ‘A vodka and coke for me too, please.’

☀☀☀☀☀

Thank you for stopping by Books and Me today!

Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings #BlogTour #GuestPost #bookextract

Books and Me

Seas of Snow Paperback Launch

Extremely delighted to be hosting the guest post on my Books and Me blog  today on the Blog Tour to celebrate the paperback launch of this stunning book.

Over to you Kerensa………

First of all, thank you so much for having me and for inviting me to share an extract from the works of Rainer Maria Rilke and to talk about my responses to it. It’s such a pleasure to do this for you and I am thrilled you so kindly joined the #SeasOfSnow paperback launch blogtour!

Background 

The protagonist in SEAS OF SNOW is called Gracie Scott. We meet her when she is just five years old, and learn how Uncle Joe appears in her life, changing it forever. Through the book, she discovers a passion for both playtime and poetry as a means to escape her traumas and torments. She delights in the words and sounds of poetry and stories to liberate her – even for a moment – from the darkness of her life.

A kindly English teacher introduces Gracie to poetry so she gets to dip her toes into its delights slowly and carefully… and we get to experience poetry through the eyes of a child, making it less intimidating and difficult.

Mr Hall tells Gracie:

‘Poetry is the most marvellous Secret Key to escaping real life and disappearing into a world of your own. It’s your very own Castle of Make-Believe.’

‘I’m not sure I understand, sir . . .’

‘Well, Gracie, the clever thing about poetry is that each and every person will read a poem in their own way, bringing with them their own experiences and perceptions and opinions and prejudices. Each and every person will see different things in different ways. An interpretation of understanding here, a shade of emotion there. And the layers! You would be amazed all the hidden layers there are in poetry – but unlike in maths, there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer. All that matters is how it makes you feel, and what it makes you think.

‘There are word patterns and sounds; clever loops and references and what we call sonic echoes, where the sounds words and syllables make reflect each other and echo each other. Some people will spot some things, other people will spot others. Some people will hear things, some people won’t. That’s the beauty of it, Gracie.’

There follows a passage where they talk about a poem he introduces her to. By the end of that chapter, Mr Hall concludes:

‘Poetry, if you let it, will help you make sense of the world. It can be your solace and your friend, even in the loneliest of times. Your escape. Your Secret Key.’

And with that, Gracie becomes hooked.

A bit about Rilke 

The extract I have chosen to share with you today is from Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Letters to a Young Poet‘. It becomes incredibly important to Gracie as her story unfolds. The book itself is a very slim volume of correspondence, written by a somewhat obscure Austro-Bohemian poet many people will never have heard of. Rilke wrote in German, and the letters were penned over several years when he was still of very tender age himself, but cast in the role of counsel and elder.

Rilke (1875-1926) was one of the most extraordinary poets that has ever lived, known for his lyricism and inspirational philosophies about life. The Letters are beautifully written words of hope, enlightenment and succour. They hold you by the hand, catch you when you fall, and lull you into self-belief where none existed before.

There are only ten letters in this small book, so you can just read one before bed time, or with a cup of teain between chores, or in your lunchbreak.

Rilke wrote them over a period of five years to a young man called Franz Kappus who was just nineteen years old and about to enter the German military. Kappus wrote to Rilke, who was then only 27 years old, shyly sharing some of his poetry and seeking guidance in life and asking Rilke to critique his literary work.

The Letters are written in prose but with a lilting lyricism that dances the words off the page in melodies and word pictures. They are so beautifully crafted I would categorise them as prose poems. Their power whisks you away, makes you think, and helps you calm.

Some people accuse Rilke of being overly sentimental, and maybe the fact I love him so much says something about me…. but I just swim in his soothing tones and feel my pain and trouble slowly ebb away.

One critic has described the Letters as “a virtual owner’s manual on what it is (and what is required) to be an artist and a person.” I would say they provide a guiding light when times feel bleak and particularly those occasions when you feel you don’t know where to turn.

My chosen extract 

A poetic passage from Rilke’s Letters becomes the talisman of Gracie’s life. It’s a prose poem that offers comfort, kindness and safety. All the things Gracie craves and yearns for. You can either read it here, or listen to this beautifully voiced version on YouTube

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths  

That are at the beginning of all peoples.
 

The myths about dragons 

That at the last moment turn into princesses.  

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses  

Who are only wanting to see us
 

Once beautiful and brave.
 

Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being  

Something helpless, that wants help from us.  

So you must not be frightened  

If a sadness rises up before you
 

Larger than any you have ever seen.
 

If a restiveness like light and cloud shadows
 

Passes over your hands and over all you do
 

You must think that something is happening with you,  

That life has not forgotten you.
 

That it holds you in its hand.
 

It will not let you fall. 

There is a kindliness and a confidence in this poem that I simply love. You get the impression a very wise and lovely soul is sharing some thoughtful advice with you. The words themselves are overwhelmingly warm and protecting. The assurance and certainty of the speaker/writer quite literally holds you by the hand and lets you know that life has not forgotten you, it will not let you fall.

We are each and every one of us frightened of things sometimes. It might be the fear of illness, of a person, of a situation. Life hurtles challenges and difficulties towards us, relentlessly. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

And sometimes, we can question ourselves, doubt ourselves. It is so easy to assume we are in the wrong, that we are at fault. These beautiful words by Rilke seek to offer us some comfort… and to try to help us open our eyes to see the good and light in people and situations.

Now, you can argue that adopting a Pollyanna approach to life can be naïve and simplistic. I would tend to agree. But wouldn’t the world be a lovelier, more pleasant, kinder place if we did each seek to see the best in others, and if we did try our best to see things from others’ perspectives, even those who might appear to be our dragons. Even our Uncle Joes, perhaps.

I first discovered the works of Rilke as a student. I absolutely loved his choice of words, the music and melody of his cadences. I have later read some exquisite translations of his work. Even in English you can sense the purity and the beauty of the writing.

As the extract we are talking about here is a translation from the German, I shan’t critique in this post the lyricism and cadences of the phrases or talk in depth about the rhythms and metaphors that Rilke uses. I think this particular translation feels very true to the original in both music and concept, which is why I selected it. You can find alternative translations online if you feel like digging a little. This is the one which, to me, best reflects the words Rilke wrote. For anyone interested in the original, I thought it would be nice to reprint it here. You can see in the original it is very much in letter form, and there is even a reference to the recipient by name (lieber Herr Kappus = dear Mr Kappus), which gets removed in translations so the words speak to a broader human truth.

Wie sollten wir jener alten Mythen vergessen können, die am Anfange aller Völker stehen, der Mythen von den Drachen, die sich im äußersten Augenblick in Prinzessinnen verwandeln; vielleicht sind alle Drachen unseres Lebens Prinzessinnen, die nur darauf warten, uns einmal schön und mutig zu sehen. Vielleicht ist alles Schreckliche im tiefsten Grunde das Hilflose, das von uns Hilfe will. 

 Da dürfen Sie, lieber Herr Kappus, nicht erschrecken, wenn eine Traurigkeit vor Ihnen sich aufhebt, so groß, wie Sie noch keine gesehen haben; wenn eine Unruhe, wie Licht und Wolkenschatten, über Ihre Hände geht und über all Ihr Tun. Sie müssen denken, daß etwas an Ihnen geschieht, daß das Leben Sie nicht vergessen hat, daß es Sie in der Hand hält; es wird Sie nicht fallen lassen 

I have come back to Rilke time and time again throughout my life. I find his words give me that little lift I need sometimes, when navigating challenges and heartache. One way of describing it is to say I use Rilke as self-help. It really works! I’d recommend ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ to anyone going through troubled times or feeling anxiety, a lack of self-belief, or fear of the unknown. From matters of the heart to family and career… Rilke has some inspirational words to lift and inspire you.

Buying Links

Amazon UK – £9.99

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  –  £8.65

Book Depository  –  £8.32

Dangerous Score by Michael Bearcroft #BlogTour #Extract #Giveaway #BookReview

On the Blog today it’s time for some football!!  And some thrilling action off the pitch too!!

Dangerous Score 

 

Football hero Jason Clooney is riding high….until a date with a beautiful woman lands him in trouble with the media, and into battle with the criminal underworld.

Now against a backdrop of an uncertain professional future, Jason has to confront disturbing revelations surrounding his new girlfriend’s family. From football action on the pitch to behind the scenes plotting. To battles with a criminal gang and constant media attention, all adding to the toughest challenges he has ever faced in life, love, as a player and as a man.

Purchase from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2BAaf6j

About Michael Bearcroft

Ex Sheffield United Junior, former Chairman Corby Town FC Actor and stage director, former British Red Cross Regional Director

Website: http://dangerousscore.co.uk/

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mikebearcroft1

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Today on the Blog I have the pleasure of sharing a little extract from DANGEROUS SCORE with you all – so sit back and enjoy!!

 

Still there was nothing Blister could probably say or do could make things worse.  

The Charter was quiet, after work drinkers having gone home for dinner, those out for the night were yet to arrive. Blister was sat in the lounge, back to the fire. The weather was still more winter than spring. Jason was surprised to see that the older man was in the company of two similar aged blokes who looked pretty fit, possibly ex-military. They each had full pints of beer in front of them, so declined Clooney’s offer of a drink when he joined them clutching his Apple & Cranberry J20. The two managed to look both serious but friendly, unlike some of the other patrons, whose glances told Jason he wouldn’t be winning any personality contests. 

 Blister made the introductions. First up was John ‘call me Doors’ Dawson, a fifty-seven-year-old former paratrooper. The other, taller of the pair was Paul Scowcroft, a fifty-eight-year-old ex-Royal Marine. The three had met through various kinds of active service, in many locations. Now in retirement all were settled in the area.   

Blister was the spokesperson for the group.  

‘Son, we all want to help you if we can. We can see you’ve been wronged and we all have our own reasons for not liking Mr bloody Thresham.’   

There was strength and determination in Blister’s voice that Jason hadn’t heard before from this gentle giant. He felt obliged to reply in the same vein.  

‘I just cannot thank you guys enough for your belief and support in me.’  

He felt it only right to bring them bang up to date on what he’d done since the story broke. There was a moment’s quiet when he finished, his emotions getting the better of him.  

Doors gave Jason a minute or two to compose himself, then launched into his experience with the evil world of Martin Thresham.  

‘My wife had fallen behind on HP payments for a carpet she had bought from a Thresham owned company. Next thing, she gets a visit from a thug, who swears at her, threatens her, then had the nerve to give her a good grope as he left. I was beside myself and got around to his mansion double quick. Raging I can tell you. ‘Course, Thresham denied all knowledge of the incident and refused to apologise. So I warned him there’d be some nasty consequences if he didn’t clean up his act. A week later when my wife was walking home from her keep-fit class, two men grabbed her, snatched her bag and knocked her about. Scared her witless. Now she never leaves the house, has to have ongoing counselling, takes Valium. Our lives have been shattered. ‘Course I could never prove it, but I’m sure it was all Thresham’s work.’   

Doors lapsed into silence, tears in his eyes.  

Scowcroft took up the litany of sorrows.  

 ‘I worked for a local transport company when I left the Marines. The business was owned by a farmer, Tom Rawlins. One night I was late getting back with the lorry. Tom was sat at his desk, pissed and crying. Seemed he owed money to Thresham’s casino. If he didn’t pay up soon he would lose the business and the farm, which had been in the family for centuries. I offered to help him with a small loan and I knew most of the other workers would chip in as he was well liked, and we were all aware that we needed the work to make ends meet. So, during the weeks ahead we all rallied round to save the business, but before we could do anything positive Thresham called in the debt.’  

Scowcroft was sure if he had got a good solicitor, perhaps gone to court, he might have got a different result, but it was too late and faced with the shame, possible homelessness, in sheer despair, Tom killed himself with his old shotgun. As far as Scowcroft was concerned it was Thresham who had been one hundred per cent responsible for Tom pulling the trigger.  

Blister didn’t go into the reasons he hated Thresham, just stating it was to do with his late wife. So they sat there, four men united in sheer hatred for the same individual.   

Looking around Jason saw the place was beginning to fill up; he felt hostile eyes on him and was sure he was the subject of many a conversation. He suggested they adjourn to his place. He bought bottles of beer from the bar. Blister indicated that he’d like to have a private word with him, so it was decided that Jason and Blister would take the Saab, while Doors and Scowcroft climbed into a battered Land Rover painted, unsurprisingly, in camouflage colours.  

On the short journey back Blister told his story about Mr Martin Thresham. 

 ‘The wife bought an old banger on credit for our daughter without telling me she’d paid for it. The car packed up, she couldn’t pay the loan or the repair bill, so she panicked ‘cause she was terrified of what I would say.   

‘To think that she didn’t know me better than that, haunts me every day. When the debt collectors started putting pressure on her she never let on, managed to keep her fears to herself. I never detected there was anything wrong. Then one day she suddenly ran out of the house into the road, under a lorry. 

 ‘Oh, the insurance company called it an unfortunate accident and paid out, which cleared the debts. But it still left me without a wife, and my daughter without her mum.’ Blister broke down, head in hands. Jason gave him a few moments to compose himself, both alone with their thoughts. 

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And I also have a Giveaway!!!  Today the Blog just keeps on giving!!  So if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a SIGNED  copy of this thrilling new book, then please click on the link below!  Good Luck!!!

Giveaway – Win 3 x Signed Copies of Dangerous Score by Michael Bearcroft (Open Internationally)a Rafflecopter giveaway



MY  REVIEW

As a big football fan – Southend United supporter for more years than I care to remember! – I am always fascinated to read books that are set in the football world! And this one does a great job of portraying the highs and lows of life as a footballer!  Jason Clooney is the star of the show, but his life on the pitch begins to get a little complicated due to his life off the pitch!

There’s a lot of mystery and intrigue involved with this book – I would have liked to read more of the off the field goings on as the story sometimes felt a little bogged down in the football side, but the darker elements of life surrounding a football club were an interesting mix.  If you loved the Sky TV show Dream Team as I did, then this book feels like it could have been an episode of that show!

As Jason begins to settle in his new role in life, there is always the threat from outside forces that begin to play a part and I found that to be fascinating to read about.  Would definitely have loved more tension around the Thresham family storyline and all his dodgy dealings but the day to day life of life in the football world was still fun to read about.
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A Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn Freeman #GuestPost #Extract #bookreview

Extremely delighted to be hosting this Guest Post from Kathryn Freeman featuring an extract today as part of this fabulous Blog Tour for a fabulously festive book that you ALL need to read!!

Now, over to you Kathryn…..

freeman

It’s such a pleasure to be invited onto your blog, Kaz – thank you so much for hosting me. I hope you enjoy the following extract from A Second Christmas Wish.  

 

Daniel McCormick – ex tennis player and now owner of a tennis academy – has been warned by his sister not to flirt with her friend, Melissa Raven as she’s not long escaped from a miserable marriage. But how can he not, when she’s everything he finds attractive in a woman? Here he’s just finished giving his first tennis lesson to her terribly shy young son, William.  

 

‘Mum, Daniel says I’m going to be as good as him when I’m older.’ William rushed over to his mother, his voice bubbling with excitement. 

‘Hey, wait up. I think I only said maybe.’ He caught Melissa’s eye over her son’s shoulder and watched as a small smile crossed her face. If he had to guess, he’d say it wasn’t founded in humour though, but in relief. It begged the question, was it him she was so mistrustful of, or the male species in general? 

‘I’m thirsty.’ William tugged on her arm, breaking their eye contact. 

She reached into her slim black purse and handed him some coins. ‘Here you go. See what you can find in the drinks machine.’ After watching him trot off, she turned back to Daniel. ‘He seems to have enjoyed himself. Thank you.’ 

‘No problem.’ He was going to leave it at that, but something William had said while they’d been talking niggled at him. ‘I think he’s worried about having to see his father again.’ 

The blood drained from her face. ‘I think I already told you that William’s father was none of your business.’ 

Anger fizzed up his spine. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’  

‘It means that going behind my back and grilling my son for details because you can’t get them from me, is, well …’ She tailed off, visibly shaking. ‘Bloody rude,’ she finished off. ‘And pretty low.’ 

‘I asked William if he had any plans for Christmas yet,’ he returned evenly, fighting for calm. ‘He chose to tell me he thought he might be seeing his dad, and that he didn’t want to. I hadn’t realised small talk with your son was banned. My mistake.’ 

More angry than he could remember feeling in a very long time, Daniel stalked off towards his office, making sure he gave William a quick wave before he disappeared. It wasn’t the boy’s fault his mother was so touchy. What the hell did Melissa think he was? Some sort of child molester who took pleasure from tormenting small boys? Well she could damn well find someone else to coach her son. He’d had it with her. Fuming, he plonked himself down on his office chair and began to systematically rip open his post with unrestrained force. His wild movements caused his hand to bang into the pile of paperwork on his in-tray, toppling it onto the floor. 

‘Shit.’ 

‘I’m sorry.’ 

His eyes flickered between the carnage on the floor and the woman standing awkwardly in his doorway. As they settled on her troubled face, the anger slowly defused. ‘Okay.’ 

‘Can I come in?’ she asked hesitantly. ‘William is having his drink outside and …’ She wrung her hands together. ‘I’d like the chance to explain.’ 

‘Be my guest.’ Part of him wanted to stay cross with her. At least then he wouldn’t feel this need to hold her and make everything right. 

 

About the book: 

 

A Second Christmas Wish is now available to purchase in both paperback and eBook format from all good book retailers and platforms. Click HERE for buying options.  

Do you believe in Father Christmas? 

For Melissa, Christmas has always been overrated. From her cold, distant parents to her manipulative ex-husband, Lawrence, she’s never experienced the warmth and contentment of the festive season with a big, happy family sitting around the table. 

And Melissa has learned to live with it, but it breaks her heart that her seven-year-old son, William, has had to live with it too. Whilst most little boys wait with excitement for the big day, William finds it difficult to believe that Father Christmas even exists. 

But then Daniel McCormick comes into their lives. And with his help, Melissa and William might just be able to find their festive spirit, and finally have a Christmas where all of their wishes come true … 

Amazon UK

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Book Depository 

 Author Contact details 

 Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk 

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1 

 

MY REVIEW

This has been an absolutely heartwarming and thoroughly absorbing Christmas read and just proves that Christmas wishes do come true!

We first meet Melissa, an ex model, and her 5 year old son as they suffer through the hands of Lawrence, her controlling and ghastly husband. He is from a family where you have to follow the rules and he shows no heart or compassion towards his family, especially towards his very shy sweet son. Melissa eventually plucks up the courage to leave him and we then get to see her as she tries to move on with her life.

The story moves on a couple of years and Lawrence has shown very little interest in his son, but is now back on the scene with his glamorous new girlfriend, and Melissa has to deal again with his arrogance and bullying. Her son is still quite affected by the past so she signs him up to tennis lessons at the local sports centre, run by the ex tennis pro Daniel. He is used to having women falling at his feet and was the best player in the world until injury cut his career short.

The sparks between the two are immediate but Melissa is, understandably, reluctant to commit to anyone considering her past, and this is where we see the best of Daniel as he is the perfect gentleman and never pushes or rushes her for a decision. William becomes besotted though with Daniel and it is so touching to see the bond they begin to form just through Daniel treating him in the right way.

With Christmas approaching, Melissa has to make decisions concerning her past and her future and the reader gets to share her joys and doubts along the way.

A fun and easy to read Christmas cracker of a book!

HAPPY FESTIVE READING

Guest Post by Kathryn Freeman – an extract from Before You

It is my absolute delight to share my Blog today with the fabulous Kathryn Freeman – author of the equally fabulous ‘Before You’!  Over to you, Kathryn……

before

Thank you so much for hosting me on the wonderful Books and Me. I thought I would use the opportunity to share an extract of my new paperback, Before You. I’ve chosen this passage for several reasons. I hope you enjoy it!

  1. My heroine, Mel, is a press officer for the Delta racing team; a woman working in the male dominated world of Formula One. This extract shows the side of her character I really love. A woman unfazed by the driving stars she works for. A tough cookie, funny and sharp, able to give as good as she gets. There’s another side to her, one that’s still hurting from a love affair gone wrong, uncertain of her appeal as a woman. This is a side we see later in the book.
  2. Aiden Foster is my racing driver hero who’s just joined the Delta racing team. He’s sex on legs and this extract gives a feel for the effect his gorgeous looks, racing persona and wicked sense of humour have on women, not just on Mel. He’s used to having women throw themselves at him. What he isn’t used to is women like Mel, who push back at him, make him think. Who peel back his cocky layers to expose his vulnerable underbelly.
  3. Lastly, I chose this extract because it comes at the beginning of the book, so doesn’t give too much away!

Mel found her stomach flipping as she watched amusement flare in Aiden’s clear grey eyes. She’d like to bet the bunny boiler had every intention of finding out about the subject of sex in motorsport by doing her own personal, in-depth analysis. 

‘It’s good to know women’s magazines aren’t dumbing down the sport, or their readers, in any way.’ 

He quirked an eyebrow. ‘Touchy.’ 

Realising he was right, she sighed. ‘A little, sorry. But sometimes … doesn’t it piss you off, the assumption that you’re stupid enough to fall for every pneumatic bosomed, bleached blonde with laser enhanced white teeth that pouts in your direction?’ 

‘Err …’ 

‘And that the sport seems to think the only place for women is smiling emptily behind the sponsors logo, dressed in a skimpy skirt and low plunging top?’ 

‘Personally I don’t have any objections to women wearing a skimpy skirt and low plunging top.’ 

His flashing grin told her he was teasing. At least she thought he was, though she found Aiden pretty hard to read. 

‘Sorry, you’ve caught me on a bad day. I usually try to keep off the soapbox during daylight hours. So, this cutting edge interview that’s going to get to the very heart of motor racing. Do you want to do it?’ 

‘You mean do I want to have sex with a cute blonde in a pink boudoir? Or do I want to get embroiled in a fight to the death with a bunny boiler?’ 

A laugh bubbled out of her. Aiden in full flow, like he had been earlier in front of the press, was sharp and funny. ‘I mean, do you want to give up a few hours of your valuable time to help produce an article that bored housewives in the southern counties will spill their lattes over?’ 

He regarded her quizzically. ‘I’m getting the sense you don’t want me to do it.’ 

‘Put it this way, there are far better, more serious, professional platforms we can, and will, use to raise your profile in Delta. So the only reason for you to do this article …’ 

‘Is if I fancy the sometime bunny boiler.’ 

‘And even then, I’m pretty sure you can get what you want out of the meeting, without actually having to open your mouth.’ 

Once again he chuckled and, just as she had earlier, Mel found she daren’t look at him. If she did her tongue might hang out and she’d lose any professional respect she might have earned in the month since he’d joined Delta. But because she was still a woman first, and a press officer second, she allowed her eyes to briefly rest on the grooves at the side of his wide, laughing mouth. To flicker over the straight white teeth and up to his brilliant silver grey eyes. Then she forced her attention back to her phone. 

‘Actually,’ he said as she pretended to check her messages, ‘I think you’ll find that in order to get the absolute most out of any such meeting, I really do need to open my mouth.’ 

About the Book: 

When life in the fast lane threatens to implode … Melanie Hunt’s job working for the Delta racing team means she is constantly rubbing shoulders with Formula One superstars in glamorous locations like Monte Carlo. But she has already learned that keeping a professional distance is crucial if she doesn’t want to get hurt.  New Delta team driver Aiden Foster lives his life like he drives his cars – fast and hard. But, no matter how successful he is, it seems he always falls short of his championship-winning father’s legacy. If he could just stay focused, he could finally make that win.  Resolve begins to slip as Melanie and Aiden find themselves drawn to each other –with nowhere to hide as racing season begins. But when a troubled young boy goes missing, everything is thrown into turmoil, including Aiden’s championship dream.

Before You is now available to purchase as an eBook and paperback. Visit our website for buying options or type the title into your chosen book supplier’s website or eBook provider of choice: http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/before-you/

About the Author:  

freeman

Kathryn started her working life as a retail pharmacist but soon realised trying to decipher doctor’s handwriting wasn’t for her. Next she joined the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications, doing a lot of writing – about medicines. What she really wanted to write about though, was romance.  In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…   She lives with two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband’s unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Author contact details: 

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1