#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 RECIPE FOR MR SUPER by ANNI ROSE @ChocLituk @AnniRoseAuthor #PublicationDay

Delighted to be with you today to help celebrate release day for the fabulous RECIPE FOR MR SUPER by ANNI ROSE.   So I’m handing over the Blog today so she can share some thoughts on her inspiration!

Over to you Anni…..

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Release Day Post: Recipe for Mr Super by Anni Rose 

Born and raised in Berkshire, I emigrated to Wiltshire seven years ago, where I now live with my husband, sister, two dogs and Midge, the grey speckled hen. 

As a child, I loved writing fiction, producing reams of stories, thankfully lost over the years, although recently when we cleared my mother’s house out, ‘The attack of the Killer Tomatoes’ did resurface. 

On leaving school, the need to earn a living sort of got in the way of any creative ambitions and I became an accountant where my only published work apart from regular financial reports was the employees’ handbook. 

A local writing course and an encouraging group of writing friends re-ignited the fiction flame many years later and I went on to win or be short listed in several writing competitions. I had short stories published in Writers Forum, My Weekly and Sophie King’s ‘How to Write your Life Story’.

These days I would describe my writing as modern romantic stories with a healthy dollop of humour thrown in. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and was delighted to have been signed by Choc Lit Publishing in 2021. Recipe for Mr Super is the third in my ‘Recipes for Life’ series and follows hot on the heels of Recipe for Mr Perfect and Recipe for Mr Right, both published last year. 

Away from the garden and writing I can usually be found behind a camera, walking the dogs, enjoying one of my husband’s curries or my sister’s bakery treats. 

The ‘Recipes for Life’ Series are all set in my fictional town of Redford. They are stand-alone novels although I have to admit some of the characters may have written themselves into more than one book. 

Recipe for Mr Super was inspired by the four years spent working as an heir hunter and my love of horses. Having been lucky enough to ride and/or own some amazing horses over the years this is my tribute both to them and the lovely people I have met through riding over the years and to one amazing Shetland Pony who had a thing about Wellington boots! 

Find out more about Anni here: 

Twitter: @AnniRoseAuthor  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnniRoseAuthor  

Website: https://anniroseauthor.co.uk 

Instagram: anniroseauthor 

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About the book: 

Where’s a hero when you need him? 
 

In Autumn Rigden’s case, enjoying semi-celebrity status on the other side of the world. Although Nick Flynn is no superman – talented horse rider and Super Sportstar of the Year he might be, but he has a habit of leaving Autumn in the lurch when she needs him most. 
 

Anyway, Autumn is too busy with her new career to care about Nick. Okay, so she’s had to give up her OIympic dressage dream, her childhood home and beloved Shetland pony – and all to the benefit of Gordon, Nick’s money-grabbing father. But Autumn’s new ambition is to become an heir hunter extraordinaire, and with a promising commission and only a few weirdos demanding she prove they’re related to royalty, she’s all set. 
 

But when Mr Super returns, will Autumn find that forgetting about horses and the Flynns is harder than she could have ever imagined? 

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3nAdsMg  


Kobo: https://bit.ly/3bIokFb

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


Nook: https://bit.ly/3t9RB1g  

#GuestPost THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @ChrisPenhall

An absolute delight to be having company on the Blog today to help celebrate the publication day of the wonderful THE HOUSE ON THE HILL by CHRIS PENHALL!!  Links to buy are below so go grab your copy and get that Summer feeling on!!

Over to you Chris…..

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Release Day post: The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall

The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve is the story of Layla Garcia, the apparently serene, successful, well-organised owner of a yoga and mindfulness studio called – yes, you’ve guessed it – The House on the Hill. The story follows her through the summer months of one memorable year, and it transpires that under that calm exterior is a swan with legs paddling faster and faster like a wind-up toy as time goes on in order to just keep things under control and the business running smoothly.

But that proves harder than she thinks, especially when a reminder of a past she’d rather not deal with moves in next door in the form of writer, Luke Mackie. He accidentally brings a spot of unwelcome, but – I’m going to be honest here – much-needed chaos to her life. And just to make things even more difficult for herself Layla decides not to tell him that their paths have already crossed. And voila – she manages to create another problem. For her. Not for him. He has no idea they have any kind of common history at all.

All of this is set against the backdrop of Lagos in the western Algarve – a place I love very much, and where I go often to relax, replenish and have quite a lot of fun.

There is a hill behind the long, beautiful stretch of sand that is Meia Praia and I decided that it was a perfect place for Layla’s studios where she can hide out, driving down to the beach or into the city when she needed to, but able to return and gaze at it all from a distance whenever she wants.

She can open the door onto the balcony outside her bedroom and listen to the birdsong and distant lapping of the waves after the daily morning yoga session before she faces the world. To the west, the white-washed buildings of Lagos, to the east, the lagoon separating Meia Praia and Alvor and Portimao, where elegant yachts pause for a while before gliding gracefully out to sea.

For me, this encapsulates Lagos, with its vibrance on one hand, and its serenity on the other. I can experience both within a 20-minute walk! In the summer, the streets are filled with life and music, whether it’s of buskers on street corners or guitarists in bars and restaurants across the city. And yet you can get away from the crowds simply by sitting on the sand of Praia de Batata next to the fort at the end of the Avenida as the sun goes down, where all is quiet, or pad around the narrow, cobbled back streets in the shadows of the city walls, and to the accompaniment of your footsteps and the occasional hum of conversation.

All of that is Layla’s world. She just needs to be careful the House on the Hill doesn’t really turn into her Fortress on the Hill.

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About the Book:

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!

Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.

But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.

Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3ygCc26 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3xPS0HJ 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/38AH8oO 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3PqObAO

About the Author:

Chris is a freelance writer and radio producer. Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it. She is now working on her second. A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. Chris has two grown-up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside. Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Chris debut novel, The House That Alice Built won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition sponsored by Your Cat Magazine.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisPenhall 

Like Chris on Facebook: Chris Penhall Author 

Visit Chris’s blog here: https://www.chrispenhall.co.uk/

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#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 Edie’s Summer of New Beginnings by Kirsty Ferry @ChocLituk @kirsty_ferry #Excerpt #PublicationDay

Excited to be with you today to share an exclusive excerpt from the fabulous Kirsty Ferry, to help celebrate Publication Day for EDIE’S SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS!! Go grab your copy ASAP!!

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Release Day Extract: Edie’s Summer of New Beginnings by Kirsty Ferry

Edie’s Summer of New Beginnings is the wonderful and quirky new romcom from Kirsty Ferry – a book that’s bound to put a smile on your face this summer! To celebrate publication day, we thought we’d introduce you to Edie and her world on Karen’s blog this morning. But who is Ninian Chambers, and how is he about to shake up Edie’s idyllic village existence?………..

The village I lived in was quite a small one. In a small village, of course, your business is everybody’s business. And that was why everyone in Padcock’s tiny corner shop stopped and went ‘Ooooh!’ when Sally announced a certain piece of staggering information …

‘A film crew is coming to Padcock Court in the summer!’

‘Oooh,’ I said, joining in and edging closer to the counter to listen a little better as Lilian commented, ‘Ooooh. But however will Mrs Pom-pom stand that? Won’t she set her hounds on them?’

Mrs Pom-pom wore hats that looked like tea cosies all year round and shouted at a people a lot. She especially liked shouting at people who walked past her gate too closely, and definitely liked shouting at cars. Her real name was Mrs Pomeroy, but, well, her hat choices informed her nickname.

Mrs Pom-pom’s hounds were two great big Labradors, who always stared at her and drooled whilst she shouted.

‘Get them! Get them, boys!’ she’d screeched when my friend Cerys and I had rolled back from the pub one evening and had the audacity to do snorty giggles when we passed Padcock Court.

‘Arf!’ went Arfur, and lay down.

‘Umph!’ went Umbert, and also lay down.

Fortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Cerys and I survived the attack.

‘I don’t know,’ said Sally, back on the subject of the film crew. ‘Perhaps she’ll be a bit more flexible if it’s going to make them some money.’

Everyone nodded sagely. Money was definitely something Mrs Pom-pom needed in shedloads. Padcock Court looked impressive – an ancient familial manor house in our picture-perfect village – but beyond the white plaster and dark wood beams, roofs dripped, ceilings were bowed and windows rattled as the wind came rushing down the lea to hit the back of the house.

I knew this because when I was little, and my granny still lived in Padcock – before I inherited her house – she had been quite friendly with Mrs Pom-pom, who wasn’t quite so shouty in those days. Although even back then she’d owned a series of impressive tea cosy hats.

I’d always spent most of my life shuttling back and forth between Padcock and wherever I found myself next. My mum, Bridget, had me when she was very young and sent me to boarding school as soon as she could. She was never hands on, and my gran basically brought me up.

Gran’s heyday had been in the sixties. She had loads of stories about that time, but had never had a husband. I had no idea who my grandfather was, just as I never knew who my father was. I’m not sure if my mum ever knew either. It probably wasn’t surprising, really, that my personal style was like I’d been spewed out of the sixties and dumped into the twenty-first century, what with Gran’s influence in my life. For some reason, the thought of that era made me feel happy and secure, and I’d clearly absorbed more of Gran’s history than even she thought possible.

It was no wonder I’d started dressing like one of Andy Warhol’s muses in my rebellious teens, when all I was bothered about at my expensive school was bunking off any class that wasn’t art. My style was simple yet effective – black mini skirt, black polo neck, chandelier earrings and boots. My hair, naturally quite a dark brown, was chin length and bleached, and I usually wore it in a ponytail. I got some odd looks in Padcock initially as I grew up and developed my own style, but they soon just accepted me as “That Weird Artist Girl From London”.

I’ve always loved Padcock. Padcock suited my gran and it suited me for the moment – although the village was undoubtedly a bit of a tourist trap. So many films and TV series had been filmed in this sleepy little place in the South Downs, that hearing Mrs Pom-pom had a camera crew coming in shouldn’t have been quite so exciting – but then we could all remember the last time someone had come to film anything. It was a gardening programme, and Mrs Pom-pom had yelled at the celebrity gardener and chased him away with the loppers.

‘Edie.’ Sally suddenly addressed me, bringing me back to the present, even as I found myself wondering just exactly how far Mrs Pom-pom had chased that poor celebrity gardener. ‘You’ll be interested in the programme.’ The swivelling of the collective Padcock eyes towards me was almost audible.

‘What! Why?’ I was a little stunned. I’m as interested as any village local each time a new film crew rocks up. We once had a celebrity bingo thing going on in the pub. Lovely Sam, the barman and owner of the Spatchcock Inn, kept the official list of “things to spot” behind the bar and we’d whisper to him when we heard or saw anything relevant – for example, a film star furtively smoking behind the back of a building, or an actor having a tantrum about something and being ushered away to be soothed by the member of the production team.

‘Because, Edie, this film crew are doing a painting challenge.’ Sally leaned back in her seat behind the counter and folded her arms.

‘And…?’ I failed to make the connection.

‘And you could take part in it.’

‘I could not!’

‘You could. You paint. You draw things. You do art.’

‘Well … yes.’ I felt the colour rise in my cheeks. I would admit that forty per cent of the “local art” in Eclectically Yours – Cerys’ Craft Shop and Organic Tea Room was of my creation. I worked part-time with Cerys … well, Cerys would say I worked for her, but I would strongly disagree. She was technically my manager, but if she ever had to discipline me, I’m sure she’d just say that she was very “disappointed” in me and then I’d cry.

So yes, some of the artwork in her shop was mine, but that definitely didn’t mean I wanted to participate in a televised competition.

‘But that doesn’t mean I want to participate in a televised competition,’ I tried.

That panicky feeling that had become too much a part of me when I thought about doing anything more exciting art-wise than painting pretty little village scenes for the craft shop thumped against my ribcage. I used to do quite a bit of wild avant-garde art when I lived properly in London. I had a studio and everything, not too far from my Camden Town flat. The flat had been in my family since Mum was a baby, and it had become my base when I left Goldsmiths – the same place where Mary Quant studied – when I decided to pursue a career that embraced my creative side.

But the draw of London and the sense of my art being anything expressive and meaningful at all had shrivelled and died when Gran passed away. I couldn’t find the headspace to do it any more. As a result, I was in no doubt that my work now seemed slightly contained and small.

A bit like I felt – now that I was safely cocooned in Padcock, where the real world couldn’t touch me. I dabbled with perfunctory art for Cerys’ shop. That was it. That was what I felt capable of.

‘But I don’t want to do that sort of stuff. I can’t do that sort of stuff. I won’t do that sort of stuff—’

‘But they want local artists to take part. It says in the bumf.’ Sally looked at me with a dangerous, flinty glint in her eye. ‘Nobody more local than you. Your gran talked about you and your London exhibitions all the time. And—’ Again, everyone in the shop – including me, despite my reservations – leaned forward, agog ‘—there’s a celebrity judge.’

‘Ooooh.’ There was another chorus of awed agogness. ‘Who is it?’

‘Ninian Chambers,’ Sally finished proudly.

‘Noooooo!’ I howled.

Everyone swivelled those eyeballs towards me again, clearly horrified that I was looking and sounding so disgusted about the lauded and generally beloved artist Ninian Chambers.

But I couldn’t help it. That squawky denial had absolutely come from me.

What they didn’t know was that me and Ninian bloody Chambers had one hell of a history.

From: Edie’s Summer of New Beginnings by Kirsty Ferry

© Kirsty Ferry

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Can Edie rediscover her artistic mojo and become a ‘Watercolour Wonder’?

Edie Brinkley went from rising star on the London art scene to hiding out at her gran’s cottage in the little village of Padcock after a series of unfortunate circumstances leave her almost too panicky to pick up a paintbrush.

When celebrity artist Ninian Chambers rocks up in the village to film Watercolour Wonders, a new TV art competition, Edie is horrified – especially as he played no small part in her decision to leave London.

But, with the support of the Padcock community, and one very special fellow contestant, could Ninian’s show ultimately offer a fresh start for Edie and her art career? Or will Annabel the sixties’ style stealer, along with make-up artist Tallulah and her ‘Caravan of Hell’, sabotage her summer of new beginnings?

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Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3ly2s16

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3z1bStQ 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3x75XCB 

Nook: https://bit.ly/37pfQjY

About the Author:

 Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more. Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better. Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting. Kirsty writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

Find out more about Kirsty here:

https://www.facebook.com/kirsty.ferry.author

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#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 …

***

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 MEET ME ON THE BUDDY BENCH by HANNAH PEARL @ChocLituk @HannahPearl_1

Delighted to be with you today to hand over the blog to the lovely HANNAH PEARL  as she shares some thoughts on her wonderful new book MEET ME ON THE BUDDY BENCH, which was released yesterday.  It’s a book very close to my heart as I have M.E too, so it really struck a chord with me and it’s a book I cannot recommend highly enough… go get your copy NOW!!

Over to you Hannah….

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Guest Post: Meet Me on the Buddy Bench by Hannah Pearl

My inspiration for writing Meet Me on the Buddy Bench was to explore what happens when life takes an unexpected turn. It’s all about finding happiness even when life isn’t easy or straightforward. This happened to me when I got ill just over seven years ago and didn’t fully recover. I wanted to write about a character who develops ME as this condition continues to really limit what I can do. It means so much to me to have this opportunity to raise awareness of the condition, but to hopefully do this within a book that reaches past our community and is read more widely too.

Meet Me on the Buddy Bench is a romance, and I hope that people will enjoy watching Ava and Sam fall in love as much as I enjoyed writing their story. Romance books are so powerful, and I needed them when I, like Ava in this book, could suddenly no longer do all of the simple things I once took for granted. I needed their uplift, their positivity, their support, their encouragement. Their reassurance that people do find happiness even when they’ve experienced unexpectedly difficult times. Romance books kept me company when I was suddenly alone for hours at a time. They offered hope and made me laugh and cry in turn.

I hope that this book can entertain people, but if it can also bring comfort or companionship to anyone who needs it, that would make me very happy indeed.

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About the Book:

When an ordinary park bench becomes a lifeline …

As a primary school teacher, Ava Lam is familiar with the ‘buddy bench’: a rainbow painted bench where sad or lonely children can sit to show they need a friend.

But are buddy benches just for kids? Ava might have assumed so – until she finds herself sobbing her heart out on a park bench and a kind stranger sits down next to her.

The stranger, Dr Sam Stone, has a house, an impressive job and he’s even training for a marathon – all things that seem painfully out of Ava’s reach in her new and scary circumstances. But, whilst Sam appears to have everything figured out, it turns out he needs a sympathetic ear just as much as she does.

Is the encounter a one-off, or could the ‘buddy bench’ begin to represent a source of comfort and support that will become precious to them both?

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Buying Links:

 Kindle: https://amzn.to/36YZOxI

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3EuHaKc 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3uYgaQk

 Nook: http://bit.ly/3I0HlOt

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About the Author:

Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.

She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

In 2015 she was struck down by Labyrinthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.

Follow Hannah on Twitter here: @HannahPearl_1

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#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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#GuestPost IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL by BERNI STEVENS #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @Berni_Stevens1

Hello and welcome!! Happy Tuesday and also Happy Publication Day to the fabulous BERNI STEVENS for the release of IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL!!!

And to celebrate that fact, I’m handing over the blog to her today so she can share an excerpt from the book with you… and then you can rush out and buy yourself a copy as it’s another wonderful book from her!!

Over to you Berni….

Exclusive Release Day Extract: It’s Only Rock and Roll by Berni Stevens

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with an internationally famous rock star? Would you travel with him? Or would you stay at home, following your own career path? Can you even imagine what it must be like going to every social occasion alone, because your man’s away on the other side of the world?

How fragile the balance within the band must be sometimes, and how easily it can all go horribly wrong. Everything could collapse in a drumbeat if that balance is upset.

There’s the soaring egos amongst the band’s main personnel, the competition and the jealousies, and then there’s the girlfriends and wives …

Here’s a couple of sneaky peeks at the book, firstly when Izzy and Seth arrive in Adelaide for the final leg of the tour before everyone enjoys a few weeks’ holiday, followed by Izzy’s arrival at Seth’s beautiful country pile in Sussex …

I hope you enjoy them.

Berni x

From: It’s Only Rock and Roll by Berni Stevens

Seth cast a cursory look over their cases and nodded.

‘All there,’ he said.

One less thing to worry about. Their luggage had arrived safely with them in Adelaide and not careered off to Bangkok.

Zach was indeed waiting with Anna in Arrivals, standing with a bunch of other drivers all holding up notices. Zach’s said: Mr Rock God and his lovely lady. Seth laughed aloud when he saw it, and Izzy, in spite of the weird feeling that she’d somehow landed on a different planet, joined in.

‘Hey man, how’s it going?’ He shook hands with Zach and dropped a kiss on Anna’s cheek. ‘How’s my second favourite girl?’

‘Good to have you back,’ said Zach. ‘Really.’

‘Sounds ominous.’ Seth shot him a look.

‘Nothing you can’t sort,’ said Zach quickly. ‘The odious Sophie arrived a couple of days ago.’

Seth rolled his eyes. ‘Now I know it’s ominous.’

‘Sophie?’ Izzy looked at Anna, fearing Sophie might be another Gracie, and, to be honest, one of those was enough for any one lifetime. Gracie was one of Seth’s ex-girlfriends – demanding, jealous and verging on stalker-like.

‘The love of Jonno’s life – apparently,’ said Anna. ‘Interfering and really annoying – just like the woman in Spinal Tap.’

‘I’m betting Iz has never seen Spinal Tap,’ said Seth with a grin. He raised his eyebrows at Izzy in question.

‘Sounds like an affliction,’ muttered Izzy.

‘In all the years I’ve worked for the band, I’ve never ever known Gina and Caz to argue. They’re like twin sisters, but the moment she arrived, they’ve been arguing,’ said Anna with a sigh.

Seth frowned. ‘Over what?’

‘Sophie “borrowed” Caz’s personal mic, so she could sing Jonno’s track yesterday. Without asking I might add, and her voice is bloody awful. When challenged, she told Caz that Gina said she could use it, so it was Gina who got yelled at.’

Izzy didn’t know much about band politics, but even she knew personal equipment was just that – personal.

‘What fun she’s having,’ said Seth grimly.

***

The gates clanged shut behind her, and she drove up towards the property. The beautiful red-brick Tudor house came into view after the first bend in the drive. She remembered the first time he’d brought her here, and it did feel strange to just turn up without him. Almost voyeuristic. He must trust me implicitly to allow me to come here, she thought. The London flat was one thing, but this was his special place: his retreat from the mad world of rock and roll. And yet he’d allowed her in without any doubts at all, it appeared.

Unsure where she should park, Izzy followed the sweeping drive round to the back of the house, to the big wooden door she knew opened on to his very impressive kitchen – the kitchen nobody ever cooked in. A gunmetal coloured VW Golf was parked under the trees opposite the back door, so Izzy parked next to it, wondering who it belonged to. She got out of her car and stretched, feeling the need to walk off the hours spent driving.

The back door opened, and a sturdy-looking woman with grey-streaked brown hair pulled back in a severe bun stepped out.

‘You Isabelle?’ she called.

‘That’s me,’ said Izzy.

‘I’m Sarah, Seth’s housekeeper.’

Another housekeeper. Izzy really hoped she didn’t live in.

‘Hello, Sarah,’ she said, hauling her case out of the boot. ‘How’s everything?’

‘Quiet with Seth away,’ Sarah replied with a quick survey of Izzy’s belongings. ‘How long are you here for?’

‘I’m not sure yet.’ Suddenly Izzy didn’t feel very welcome.

‘I don’t cook,’ Sarah continued. ‘You’ll have to fend for yourself. And I don’t clean either. I’m only here now to see you in.’

‘Fair enough,’ said Izzy, wondering what, in fact, she did do. ‘I’ve brought supplies, and I’ll be visiting my family a fair bit too.’

‘Couldn’t stay with them then?’

Izzy hid an inward sigh. This woman would take some winning over, it seemed.

‘I could have, yes,’ was all she said. She continued pulling bags of supermarket shopping out of the boot, and her laptop bag, but decided to leave her wellies where they were. Something told her she shouldn’t appear to be moving in to this territorial woman. Slamming the boot shut, she locked the car and began taking her stuff into the kitchen. Sarah made no attempt to help, just continued standing in the wide doorway with her arms folded, so Izzy had to say ‘excuse me’ every time she wanted to get by.

‘There’s no milk either,’ she said, seemingly as a last ditch attempt to rattle Izzy.

‘I brought some,’ said Izzy abruptly, wishing the woman would just go home.

‘Or tea,’ she continued.

‘Don’t drink it,’ said Izzy, almost beginning to enjoy the exchange now.

‘Or coffee.’

Izzy burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it. What was her problem?

© Berni Stevens

About the Book:

Is the rock and roll lifestyle all it’s cracked up to be?

Being the girlfriend of a rock star isn’t all glitz and glamour – at least that’s what Izzy Grant has found since she started dating Seth Roberts of Scarlet Gryphon fame; it’s actually a lot of waiting and wondering and worrying as Seth travels the world whilst she’s stuck in London. Can she ever rely on Mr Cool to settle down?

But rock gods get insecure too, and whilst Seth is jetting off to far-flung locations to perform sold-out shows, he worries that Izzy will find a “Joe Normal” and opt for a more ordinary life. Plus, he could do with some support when a certain entitled rock star girlfriend gets too big for her Jimmy Choos and threatens to break up the band.

There is a solution, but are either of them willing to take the plunge?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3q6cE3r 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3taumEU

 Apple Books: https://apple.co/3IfN5Df 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3KMLs1C

About the Author: 

Berni Stevens lives in a four-hundred-year-old cottage in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, son and black cat. She trained in graphic design and has worked as a book cover designer for more than twenty years.

Books and art remain her passion, and her love of the paranormal began when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, aged fourteen. She is now on both the committee and the book panel of the Dracula Society, a society for fans of gothic literature and film.

Berni writes contemporary and fantasy romance.

Find out more about Berni here:

https://www.instagram.com/berni.stevens.5/

https://www.facebook.com/berni.stevens.5/

#GuestPost IT STARTED WITH A WEDDING by KIRSTY FERRY @ChocLituk @kirsty_ferry

Hello! Happy to be handing over the Blog today to the wonderful Kirsty Ferry to celebrate publication day for the fabulous IT STARTED WITH A WEDDING!! Raise those glasses to celebrate and go grab your copy NOW!! 

Over to you Kirsty….

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 It Started with a Wedding by Kirsty Ferry

Welcome to the fifth Schubert book, It Started with a Wedding! It’s actually, I think, the longest one so I hope people enjoy reading it as that’s one of the complaints I usually get – ‘if only it was longer!’ But there was a lot to cram into this one – and as the title might imply, we are building up to a wedding. It’s Nessa’s wedding, and her twin brother Alfie is assigned the task of organising it along with a little help from Schubert the cat.

If you’ve read any of these books, you’ll know that Schubert is a mystical cat, and all the members of Nessa’s family have their own quirks, shall we say. Alfie is in a bit of denial about his quirks, but then he meets Fae and she has her own quirks – so they’re pretty well matched.

The garden Alfie and Fae meet in is called, in the book, Bea’s Garden, and is based on Dilston Physic Garden in Corbridge, Northumberland. Dilston a very special place and has its own atmosphere and mysticism as well. In fact, I was once at a workshop there and someone commented that they could almost hear the plant spirits whispering, which is a beautiful way to look at it. I knew I wanted to set a book somewhere like it, so It Started with a Wedding was perfect. Where else could Alfie get a special collection of flowers for Nessa’s bouquet, and where else could Schubert enjoy a small rampage in a bed of catnip?

The ruined church I ‘borrowed’ for the book, where Nessa has her wedding, was based on a ruined chapel hidden within Egglestone Hall Gardens near Barnard Castle, in County Durham. The earliest tombstone there is dated 1607, but the chapel was closed in 1868. I love this phrase from the website: ‘In many ways it is a spirit echo from the past. It is a part of the garden shrouded with history and tranquility, a small space for meditation, contemplation and reflection. Yet there are voices for those that wish to hear.’

I have started writing a new book, using Bea, the owner of the garden, as my heroine. Originally, I wasn’t going to have Schubert in it – but now I’m not so sure. As I am writing it, I keep finding bits where a big, fat, black cat could easily slink in. I think I need to do some contemplation and reflection myself to see if he really does need to make his presence known … so all I can say to you as readers on that one, is answers on a postcard please! 

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About the book:

It’s one thing to be asked to plan your sister’s wedding; it’s quite another when your sister is Nessa McCreadie …

Alfie McCreadie wants his twin sister Nessa to have the best wedding ever, but he’s not happy at being roped in as wedding planner – especially as, unbelievably, his main assistant seems to be Nessa’s cat, Schubert. Anyway, Alfie is a scientist. He might know his protons from his neutrons, but what does he know about weddings?

It’s Nessa who points him in the direction of Bea’s Garden, just outside Edinburgh, where he’s tasked with picking a “very-relevant-bouquet”. It’s there he meets Fae Brimham, who might be prettier than any bouquet bloom but doesn’t seem impressed by Alfie’s sensible, scientific side.

But when Nessa and Schubert are involved, surprises are bound to happen and, despite less-than-perfect first impressions, perhaps something new and beautiful can still blossom for Alfie and Fae …

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3L3Svnu 

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

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3oY3OEt 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3Fn4rxp

About the author: 

Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

Find Kirsty: 

on Twitter: @Kirsty_Ferry 

on Facebook: Kirsty Ferry Author 

on her blog: Rosethorn Ramblings

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