#bookreview #blogtour #ebookextract MURDER AT THE GORGE by Frances Evesham @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources @FrancesEvesham

It’s my stop on the blog tour today for Frances Evesham’s new book in the Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries series, Murder at the Gorge. Thanks so much to the publisher BoldWood Books and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my digital copy and spot on the tour. Not only do I have a review but also an extract from the e book for you to read……Enjoy!


Sand blew fiercely across Exham on Sea beach, slicing into any intrepid walker brave enough to venture out. Max Ramshore shivered, despite the padded jacket he’d zipped right up to his chin. The late-November wind from the sea always found the slightest chink in his clothing. He pulled his beanie lower over his forehead and made a mental note to buy a warmer scarf.

In summer, the eight miles of sand were a delight, the air tangy with ozone and fish and chips, and the beach dotted with cheerful holidaymakers eating ice cream, balancing small children on obliging, mild-tempered donkeys, and helping to build sandcastles.

In winter, the seafront belonged once more to the locals.

Max and Libby were determined, today, to reach the wooden Low Lighthouse. ‘I have mixed feelings when I walk here,’ Libby said. She pointed. ‘Look, that’s where I found the first body, lying against one of the wooden legs. It still sends shivers down my spine to remember poor Susie, slumped there like a sack of coal. At least her murder brought us together.’

‘Ramshore and Forest, detectives extraordinaire,’ Max teased.

‘Forest and Ramshore,’ Libby insisted, as she always did. No wonder they’d never agreed on a letterhead or logo for their private investigation business, even though it now took up almost as much time as producing her famous cakes and chocolates.

Libby stood by Max’s side, watching the two dogs cavorting in the sand. She had a smile on her lips. That smile was almost constant, these days.

Max forgot the cold seeping into his neck, and counted his blessings.

In almost two weeks, they’d be married.

Bear, Max’s huge, now rather elderly, Carpathian sheepdog decided an interesting morsel lay just beneath the sand under the lighthouse and dug furiously with giant paws, sand flying in every direction.

‘Watch out,’ Max shouted, too late, as sand hit him squarely in the left eye. Blinking furiously, trying not to rub the eye, he staggered upwind of Bear just as Shipley, his springer spaniel, dropped a stick twice his own size at Max’s feet.

Max’s curse was lost in Shipley’s excited barking and Libby’s shout of laughter. She retrieved the stick and threw it for Shipley to chase.

‘Come here,’ she told Max, ‘let me wash the sand out of your eye.’

His back to the wind, Max let her dribble bottled water from her rucksack into his eye and scrub around it with a tissue. She’d never make a nurse, but he decided the embrace that followed was worth the pain.

‘I shall enjoy married life if you look after me like that,’ he murmured. ‘You’re a useful person to have around.’

‘For the first aid or the cooking?’

‘Both. I’m expecting to sample every single one of the cake recipes in your “Baking at the Beach” books.’

Libby pulled back a little to look into his face, ducking as the breeze hurled more sand their way. ‘Baking at the Beach is a great title, but not a sensible activity in November,’ she admitted.

‘You can call book three, Baking in a nice warm kitchen.’

She laughed. How he loved that sound; a proper, deep chortle. His ex-wife had laughed with an affected noise designed, he was sure, to sound like tinkling bells.

He took Libby’s arm, whistling for the dogs. Shipley, who’d recently undergone strict retraining, returned at once, but Bear went on digging.

‘Do you think he’s getting deaf?’ Libby asked. ‘He used to come when I called, but lately he’s been ignoring me.’

Max studied Bear. ‘Hard to say. He’s not as young as he used to be and I’ve noticed he limps a little. Rheumatism, maybe.’

Libby was frowning. ‘I know twelve is old for a Carpathian, but I can’t imagine life without him. Maybe he needs a visit to the vet? To be checked out?’

‘I’ll take him, if you’ll please agree we can go home now and get out of this wind?’


The wind blew them back to Max’s Land Rover, parked near the jetty, in half the time it had taken them to reach the lighthouse.


Murder at the Gorge

A joke? A prank? Or something more sinister?

When the Exham-on-Sea residents are targeted by anonymous emails containing apparently harmless nursery rhymes, no one knows whether to laugh or shudder until an unexplained death touches the town.

Libby Forest, baker, chocolatier and Exham’s very own resident private investigator, alongside her partner Max Ramshore, set out to solve the puzzle before more people die. But when Max’s ex-wife arrives on the scene, ahead of Max and Libby’s long-awaited nuptials, things go from bad to worse.

With the town and their relationship under threat, Max and Libby need the help of the Exham History Society if they’re going to find the nursery rhyme killer in time.

Murder at the Gorge is the seventh in a series of Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries set at the small English seaside town full of quirky characters, sea air, and gossip.

If you love Agatha Christie-style mysteries, cosy crime, clever dogs and cake, then you’ll love these intriguing whodunnits.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3cnJN1F


When several people in the village receive e mails containing nursery rhymes, everyone just thinks it’s spam or a prank. But when Max & Libby find out the two cases they have started to look into also received them, it’s not looking so innocent after all!

But with the opening of a new cafe and their upcoming wedding to organise, things become strained and stress starts to build.

This was a lovely quick read with some delightful characters. Max and Libby are wonderfully described and I adored the inclusion of Max’s two dogs Shipley and Bear. This is a village mystery type read but with Max’s expertise in fraud and computers, and their contacts to the local police force, there is also a modern, more practical story running through it. I also liked the way the novel addresses Libby and Max’s relationship and the ups and downs of what is a second marriage in later years for both of them.

The many references to Libby’s chocolate making and baking, I must admit, had me reaching for the biscuit barrel a number of times whilst reading this book! Oh well, another few pounds added to the ever growing lockdown weight gain.

A lovely village crime story with a modern twist. I look forward to ‘munching’ my way through the other six now!


Frances Evesham is the author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries set in her home county of Somerset. In her spare time, she collects poison recipes and other ways of dispatching her unfortunate victims. She likes to cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other, her head full of murder―fictional only.

Social Media Links –




Newsletter sign up: https://bit.ly/FrancesEveshamNewsletter

The Beauty Chorus by Kate Lord Brown

The Beauty Chorus Blog Tour Banner


Blog Tour for Kate Lord Brown’s fantastic novel The Beauty Chorus


It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you all an extract from book.  Thanks to Amber of Midas Public Relations for my place on the tour.

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New Year’s Eve, 1940: Evie Chase, the beautiful debutante daughter of an adoring RAF commander, gazes out at the sky as swing music drifts from the ballroom. With bombs falling nightly in London, she resolves that the coming year will bring more than just dances and tennis matches. She is determined to do her bit for the war effort.

2nd January, 1941: Evie curses her fashionable heels as they skid on the frozen ground of her local airfield. She is here to volunteer for ‘The Beauty Chorus’, the female pilots who fly much-needed planes to bases across the country. Soon, she is billeted in a tiny country cottage, sharing with an anxious young mother and a naive teenager.

Thrown together by war, these three very different women soon become friends, confidantes and fellow adventuresses. But as they take to the skies, they will also face hardship, prejudice and tragedy. Can their new-found bond survive their darkest hours?




Squires Gate, 11.39 a.m., Sunday 5th January, 1941

I have four and a half hours to live. I am leaning against the wing of the yellow-bellied Airspeed Oxford, smoking contentedly while the ground crew chaps run their final checks. The freezing rain hisses as it hits the glowing coal of my cigarette, drums softly on the tin roof of the hangar. Call me Johnnie, by the way. Everyone does.

There is no changing fate, but when I look back at my last moments on earth I want to rush through the molecules of my body and shake off my reverie: I want to yell ‘Wake up, you silly bugger, make the most of this! This is the last time you will feel the rain on your face, the ground beneath your feet.’ But I didn’t believe in premonitions and guardian angels so I doubt I would sense anything. Now I know better.

The flight to the RAF base at Kidlington in Oxfordshire should have been simple enough – ninety minutes at most. What I did with my last hours is a mystery. The journey is a government secret still. Maybe I’ll tell you why I died 100 miles off course, maybe I won’t. Why don’t you make up your own mind?



‘Ten, nine, eight …’ Swing music and laughter from the party drifted out through the open door to Evie. As she walked down the long moonlit driveway to her father’s house, snowflakes caught on her eyelashes. Her footsteps on the frozen gravel fell into time with the big-band tune bubbling into the chill midnight air and she sang under her breath: ‘How High the Moon …’ The Bentleys and Rolls Royces parked along the drive had a light coating of snow on them already, and in spite of her white fur coat she shivered with cold, her feet frozen in her silver evening shoes.

‘Miss Evelyn!’ The butler stepped forward to catch her mink coat as it slipped from her shoulders. As the staff door swung closed, Evie caught sight of the grey-uniformed chauffeurs smoking and chatting, one with the pink-cheeked housemaid on his knee sipping Guinness. ‘Your father has been asking for you,’ the butler said as she shook the snow from her glossy dark hair.

‘Has he, Ross?’ She smoothed her pale silver satin Schiaparelli gown, and raised her chin defiantly as a cheer went up.

‘1941!’ Leo ‘Lucky’ Chase cried out, one arm raising a glass of champagne, the other clutching Virginia, his latest wife.

‘I’m amazed he even noticed I’d gone.’ Evie nodded her thanks to Ross. She touched up her red lipstick in the hall mirror then twisted her shoulder to adjust the long rope of diamonds that fell from her throat to the deep curved back of the dress. She glanced down at the hem of her gown and noticed for the first time how wet it was from trudging through the snow. ‘In for a penny …’ she murmured.

Instead of going in to the party, Evie walked on across the marble hall. Heads turned as she passed, the silver dress rippling over her curves like mercury. She flung open the terrace windows and slipped off her shoes, swinging them nonchalantly in one hand. She dropped them at the edge of the steaming, heated pool. Leo liked it to be warm all year. A crowd gathered on the terrace as Evie executed a perfect dive, her body streaking underwater like a silver fish before surfacing at the other end. A cheer greeted her as she stepped elegantly up from the pool, squeezing the water from her hair.

‘Evie! You’re bonkers!’ A young officer in uniform planted a kiss on her cheek and draped a blanket around her shoulders.

‘Happy New Year!’

‘Hello, Peter.’ She slipped her arm through his.

‘Come on, let’s get you inside before you catch your death.’

He led her around the packed dance floor to the bar. People smiled indulgently as she passed – you could always count on Evie to make an entrance.

‘Where have you been all night?’

A drunken girl in a pale blue bias-cut gown giggled as Peter handed Evie a brandy.

‘I went to see Mary, Charles’s mother.’

Evie put the glass on the mantelpiece and warmed her toes by the fire. Somehow she managed to make even a blanket look like an elegant wrap.

‘How is she?’ The smile fell from Peter’s face as Evie pursed her lips and shrugged. ‘Jolly decent of you to go out tonight.’

‘I didn’t like to think of her alone. She looked so awfully sad on Boxing Day.’

‘Of all of us, I thought Charlie would make it through,’ Peter said quietly. ‘He was so full of life. I’ll never forget the two of you bombing down that black run in Chamonix. You were determined to beat him.’

Evie shook her head. ‘He was like a brother to me. You never can tell which one of us is going to get bumped off next.’ ‘Evie!’ Leo cut through the crowd towards her. He barely cleared five feet, but he was a dynamo of a man and whenever he bore down on her Evie pictured a missile skimming through water. Without her heels their gazes locked, eye to eye. He eyed her wet, clinging dress with exasperation.

She held up a hand. ‘Before you start, I went to see Mary.’

Nonplussed, he thought quickly. ‘She’s only in the next village. What took so long?’ ‘I ran out of petrol.’ ‘Not again! How many times have I told you?’ ‘Daddy, I can’t get used to this rationing … I thought I had enough left.’ ‘You can’t drive on fumes! Especially not at the speed you drive. Where’s the Aston?’ ‘On the verge between here and White Waltham.’ He frowned.

‘I’ll send Cullen in the morning.’ ‘Sorry, Daddy.’ Evie bit her lip. ‘What am I going to do with you?’ As Leo embraced her, Evie saw the scowl on Virginia’s face and raised a triumphant eyebrow. ‘Happy New Year.’ She planted a quick kiss on his cheek before he bustled back into the party. Her father’s cocksure, springing step reminded her of a Jack Russell out on the razzle, up to no good. ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Peter shook his head. Evie watched her father in his element, surrounded by friends and hangers-on, and that old familiar loneliness crept in. ‘Years of practice. So,’ she said briskly, ‘what have I missed?’ ‘It’s been marvellous!’ the drunken girl trilled. ‘Lucky always throws the most wonderful parties. Tonight you’d never know there was a war on!’ A young soldier grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the dance floor as the big band struck up ‘In the Mood’. Evie shook her head. ‘Silly girl.’ ‘Come on old thing!’ Peter laughed. ‘You’re only twenty yourself! Have some fun.’ She shook her head. ‘No. I’m tired of …’ She waved her hand. ‘All this. Talking to Mary tonight, I felt I must do something. Even the Countess of Wharncliffe is running a bomb factory, and I heard the Duchess of Norfolk is breeding rabbits.’ ‘What do you know about bombs and rabbits?’ ‘Nothing, but I could learn.’ Evie frowned. Peter tilted his head, gently took her in his arms. ‘Don’t be blue. Charlie …’ He sighed. ‘It’s just awful bad luck, but if we let every death get to us, we’ll never win this bloody war. We’ve got to be strong.’ His voice shook slightly. ‘Besides which, this is my last night of freedom, and I at least deserve to have some fun.’ ‘I’m sorry, Peter.’ Evie shivered as she pulled the blanket around her. ‘I’d forgotten. When are you leaving?’ ‘I have to be at Debden first thing.’ ‘When I see all you chaps going off to fly, I wish—’ ‘You’re a more natural pilot than I’ll ever be!’ Peter cut in. His gaze settled on a table of men in uniform on the other side of the dance floor. ‘Are you serious?’ ‘About what?’ ‘Doing something useful.’ ‘Absolutely!’ ‘Come on then.’ He took her arm and steered her through the crowd, stopping at the table. ‘Excuse me, sir.’ He leant down to talk to the distinguished-looking grey-haired officer smoking a pipe. ‘Squadron Leader Peter Taylor.’ The officer stood and shook his hand. ‘Pleased to meet you.’ He turned to Evie. ‘And this lovely young lady is Miss Chase, if I am not mistaken?’ He kissed her hand. ‘Evie, this is Captain Eric Bailey.’ ‘But you can call me Badger, everyone does.’ He smiled as he smoothed the white streak in his hair. ‘At least behind my back.’ ‘Miss Chase is a pilot, sir,’ Peter said.

Bailey eyed her wet dress. ‘Really? I’d have had you down as a sailor.’ ‘Most amusing, sir.’ ‘How many hours have you got?’ Bailey sucked at his pipe. ‘Oh, not—’ Evie’s eyes opened wide. ‘She’s a very good pilot,’ Peter interrupted. Turning to Evie he said pointedly, ‘Captain Bailey helps run the Air Transport Auxiliary at White Waltham.’ ‘The ferry pilots?’ She held Peter’s gaze. He nodded. ‘What have you flown?’ Bailey folded his arms. ‘Tiger Moths mainly.’ She tried to sound confident. Tiger Moths only, she thought, and a couple of hundred hours at that. ‘Well, Miss Chase, we need good pilots. Why don’t you come over to White Waltham one morning and see what you think?’ ‘Really?’ ‘It’s not what you’re used to. But we need all the chaps …’ he corrected himself, ‘and gals we can get our hands on. In fact, we have some new recruits arriving tomorrow. Why don’t you join them, come along for a test flight and see what you think? Ask for Commander Pauline Gower.’ He shook their hands and rejoined his table. ‘Why didn’t Daddy tell me he was going to be here?’ she said to Peter as they stepped onto the dance floor. Peter laughed as he swung her around to the music. ‘Probably because he knew you’d jump at the chance of signing up.’


The Sideman by Caro Ramsay

The Sideman banner

Blog Tour for Caro Ramsay’s new book The Sideman. Published by Black Thorn Books on May 7th 2020.


It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you an extract from the book.  Thanks to Amber from Midas Public Relations for my place on the tour.

Sideman - jacket


Inside a beautiful Victorian family home in Glasgow, a mother and her young son are found brutally murdered. DI Costello is furious and knows exactly who did it: George Haggerty, the husband and father. The only problem is that Haggerty has a cast-iron alibi – the police themselves caught him speeding at the time of the murders. But Costello can’t let it go. Determined to expose Haggerty as a ruthless killer, she’s gone solo.

DCI Colin Anderson has no time to ponder his partner of twenty years going rogue, as his own cases are piling up. But Costello’s absence becomes increasingly worrying. Has she completely disappeared following the tracks of a dangerous man?





She looked back at the gates, closed now to keep the media away from the ‘Monkey House of Horror’. What secrets had been obscured by the monkey puzzle tree that had grown large in the front garden, hiding the windows from prying eyes? Costello had only to wait twenty minutes before she saw some movement through the bare branches of the beech hedge. She had been following George Haggerty for a couple of weeks; she knew his routine. He would be going north to see his father in Port MacDuff now. She slid down further in her seat as the garage door opened, the gates swinging wide, the white Volvo rolling out majestically to park on the street. The driver’s door opened and Haggerty, casually dressed for him in jeans and anorak, got out and walked back up the driveway, his shoes making no noise or indent on the gravel. True to his routine, he re-emerged a couple of minutes later, locked the gates closed behind him and walked briskly back to the car where he stopped and turned. He looked straight at Costello and smiled, clapped his hands together slowly twice, and climbed into the car. Clap clap. He drove away, without looking back. George Haggerty was getting away with murder. He was getting away with two million pounds in life insurance. But Costello was going to stop him, even if it killed her. Or him. She smiled, turning the key in the ignition of the Fiat. Preferably him.
The Anderson house was quiet on a Saturday afternoon. All week it had been like Glasgow Central on Fair Friday, but everybody was out today. Colin Anderson had the whole house to himself. He was lying on the sofa, nursing a large Merlot and two sore feet after helping Brenda make an early start on the Christmas shopping. He was musing at the wine, as it swirled round the contours of the glass, admiring the patterns it left in the light of the wood-burning stove. His grandchild, Baby Moses, was asleep in his basket at Anderson’s feet, an unexpected joy. The son of Mary Jane, a daughter Anderson never knew existed until she existed no more; murdered. Moses was a new member of the family, while Nesbit, the fat Staffie, was a constant fixture, curled up on the sofa, ears tucked in so he didn’t hear the rain battering against the windows. American Beauty played on the DVD, with the volume too low to hear. It was almost perfect yet Anderson was not at peace. He was still digesting the news that his partner for twenty years had resigned. Costello was gone. No notice. No chat. No goodbyes.



Caro Hi-res Colour 2 - coffee shop



Her Darkest Fear by Nina Manning

Blog Tour for Nina Manning’s new book Her Darkest Fear.

Published by Boldwood Books on March 26th 2020.


It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you a small extract from the book.  Thanks to Megan at Boldwood Books for my spot on the tour.

her darkest fear


book clipartBOOK DESCRIPTIONbook clipart

Frankie Keegan is struggling. While she tries to make strides in her career, life at home is slowly unravelling as she is haunted by the secrets of her past.

Someone else remembers…
As the dark nights draw in, the anniversary of the loss of her brother looms and Frankie is drawn back to the memories of that fateful night 20 years previously. As she descends into a guilt-ridden state, she begins to suspect that someone else is also remembering that night and they are determined to terrify her…
Can she confront her past before it’s too late?

book clipartEXTRACTbook clipart



I stood at the top of the stairs and held my breath as my anxiety spiked and my heart pounded in my throat. But I could no longer hear the noise that had drawn me there. As I stood, my foot perched ready to take the first step, I wondered if perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe the events of the last few days had finally caught up with me. But faces were hovering in front of me. Those people I had trusted. And those who I had hurt.

All those years ago I was trying so hard to make a difference in any way I could. But I was young. And I was foolish. I knew the past would never be able to bury itself, and I had not been able to rest for twenty years because the horrors of that day would stay with me until I took my final breath.

But now it was time to face the past head on. I tightened my grip on my weapon and began the descent to the kitchen. I knew I was now in grave danger. I knew that I had to protect my children and face the person who had found their way into my home.


book clipartTHE AUTHORbook clipart


Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.


Nina’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ninamanning78

Nina’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ninamanning_author/

Nina’s Own website: https://www.ninamanningauthor.com/

Nina’s Profile on our website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/nina-manning/

Nina’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ninamanningauthor1/

Amazon link to Her Darkest Fear : https://amzn.to/38Kj9OY




Love and Marriage at Harpers by Rosie Clarke

Blog Tour for Rosies Clarke’s new book Love and Marriage at Harpers, the second book in the Harpers Emporium saga.

Published by Boldwood Books in paperback and ebook on March 3rd 2020.


It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you an extract from the book.

Thanks to Megan of Boldwood Books for my spot on the tour.


love and marriage



book clipartBOOK DESCRIPTIONbook clipart

Oxford St, London, 1913.

The shop girls of Harpers Emporium on Oxford Street are happy in their work and their lives are moving on at quite a pace.

United by the suffragette cause and now living under one roof, some will find love and marriage whilst others experience heartache and

Harpers is the bond that holds them together, bringing strength through hardship and pain and friendship and love.




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‘Oh, it’s warmer in here,’ Maggie, the youngest of them, exclaimed. ‘Sorry we’re late, Rachel. We went to buy some tinned fruit for afters and missed our bus so we had to wait twenty minutes for the next one.’

‘The wind goes straight through you out there,’ Beth said. She and Sally were both in their early twenties and Rachel was in her mid-thirties, a widow and supervisor for the hat, accessories, bags and jewellery departments. Beth was a senior salesgirl but Sally had risen swiftly to the position of buyer because Ben and Jenni Harper had taken a liking to her. ‘Are you two going to that suffragette meeting this evening? I intended to come, but I’m not sure I can face that bitter cold again…’

‘The meeting has been cancelled until further notice,’ Rachel told her. ‘Because of the arrest and coming trial of Emmeline Pankhurst, the sisters think that there will be agitators in the crowd. So we’re waiting until some of the fuss dies down… and both Sally and I have decided not to attend the WSPU meetings in future. What Emmeline did was just too much… too violent. Innocent men might have been hurt.’

‘Yes, I saw something in the paper…’ Maggie put in. ‘A man left his evening paper lying on the seat when he got off the bus so I brought it home. I haven’t read the whole article but it says she looked pale but calm as she was arrested. She pleaded guilty to the bombing and to other disturbances.’

‘They will put her in prison,’ Sally said. ‘I just don’t see the point of what she did – and I think it puts men who might agree with our cause, against us.’

‘I agree,’ Rachel said, ‘but you know that Emmeline thinks we have to do something drastic to make them listen to us, otherwise they will just go on ignoring us. I spoke to her a few weeks ago at one of our meetings because I wanted to know her opinion – and she is always open to all members, as you know. She said that even those who are not against us treat us like children or pets to be humoured. I asked her if she thought it worth the risk personally and she said she was willing to give her life if she had to… I admire and like her so much, but I fear she will lose support for both branches of the Movement if she goes on this way…’

Rachel looked at Beth, sending her a silent plea, because Sally was evidently angry and she wanted an end to politics. ‘Will you make the tea while I mash the potatoes? The carrots have butter on them already…’

‘Lovely, I’m hungry,’ Beth said and went to pour boiling water into the teapot. ‘I definitely want to join the Movement instead of just attending the meetings once they start again, Rachel, but not the WSPU…’

‘Yes, me too,’ Maggie agreed. ‘I think it is time women had equal rights with men. Why shouldn’t we? They’ve had it all their own way for too long…’ She looked angry, pink spots in her cheeks. ‘However, I agree with you and I do not want to see innocent people hurt…’

Rachel understood that some of the anger in the younger girl’s voice was because of her break-up with her boyfriend Ralf the previous autumn. After a big quarrel over Maggie’s visit to her dying and estranged mother, Ralf seemed to have disappeared from the picture. Yet it was ironic that the trouble between them had been caused by Ralf’s mother, who had wanted to dominate the girl she thought would be a docile bride for her son. Maggie had a mind of her own and she had not put up with Ralf’s mother’s interference for long. Instead, she’d left her lodgings at his home and come to join her friends at the flat. Although Ralf had tried to apologise, Maggie had refused to accept his remorse and told him she did not wish to see him, since then he’d stopped coming to the store where she worked and waiting for her outside when she left at night. However, she was still smarting from his refusal to take her side and her anger sometimes came out in other ways.

Rachel reflected on the changes in the young girl since she’d started to work at Harper’s. The death of her father and the suspicion that her mother might have had something to do with it had helped to turn her from the shy child she’d been to the determined young woman she now was, a woman quite capable of standing up for herself.

Maggie’s arrival at the apartment and then Beth’s after her aunt’s marriage, had made them a little crowded, for there were only two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and sitting room. Each bedroom had two single beds, but there wasn’t a lot of room for personal possessions. Their efforts to find a larger flat had been unsuccessful for the reason that landlords preferred married couples or families and tended not to trust women living together.

Fortunately, they had the use of a shed in the yard at the back in which Rachel had stored some things that she’d kept from the home she’d enjoyed before her husband had died so painfully and bitterly. His illness had gradually become worse over several months, causing her much grief and distress until his death and after. It was just some boxes of mementoes she was reluctant to throw out and a few bits of furniture.

‘I saw an advertisement for a larger flat today,’ Sally said as they all sat down to eat. ‘I think we might just have afforded it between us, but when I rang from the office they said it had gone…’

‘Do you think it really had?’ Rachel asked. It had taken time to find a landlord who would let to them in the first place and Sally was pretty sure they’d got their present flat because Mr Harper had stood guarantor for them and it was situated just round the corner from Harper’s in Berwick Street, making it easy to walk into work on fine days.

‘I’m not sure,’ Sally replied and made a wry face. ‘I think next time I’ll lie and say I want it for my husband and myself…’

‘Your non-existent husband would have to sign,’ Rachel said with a sigh. ‘That’s why we have to get recognition that women are more than just their husband’s belongings…’


book clipartABOUT THE AUTHORbook clipart


Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Shop Girls of Harpers and The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire.

Rosie’s Twitter @AnneHerries

Rosie’s profile on our website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/rosie-clarke/

Rosie’s website: www.rosieclarke.co.uk

Amazon link to Love and Marriage at Harpers : https://amzn.to/2QZH0Ds


Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott

Blog Tour for Rachel Abbott’s new book Right Behind You. The new DCI Tom Douglas novel publishing on January 16th!

Right Behind You BT Poster One



For someone to take your life, first they must take your heart. 

Jo Palmer’s peaceful and happy life with her partner Ash and her little girl Millie is about to end. 

Ash will be arrested by the police. 

Her precious Millie will be taken from her. 

She will lose her friends. 

She will doubt her sanity. 

Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing. 

But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing. It’s raining outside. 

There’s a knock at the door. 

They are here.


It’s my stop on the Blog Tour today and I am delighted to share with you an extract from the book.

Thanks to Anne Cater for my place on the tour.




You smile too much. Do you know that? It’s annoying.

You laugh out loud, you wave to people in the street. Sometimes you even sing as you walk. I see your bouncy stride, your long hair flying in the breeze, your wide smile, as if you haven’t a care in the world.

You surround yourself with friends – in and out of your house all the time. I’ve seen them, coming and going, shouting, ‘See you soon!’ as your front door closes behind them.

Is that what it’s like to be happy? To be you?

I don’t want to be you. I am better than you.

But you do have something that I want.

And I’m going to take it from you.



I look around the table at my family and wish that these precious hours of laughter, teasing and gentle bickering could be trapped in some kind of time warp so that I can come back and visit them in the future. I know life won’t be like this forever – Millie will grow up and perhaps go off to university, and Ash’s brother and sister might move to the other side of the world or have their own families before long.

I feel a moment of loss, a sense of foreboding. I don’t want anything to change.

‘Who wants more spuds?’ I ask, pushing the unsettling thoughts from my mind.

‘No thanks, Mummy,’ Millie says. She doesn’t seem to have inherited my desire to devour every roast potato in sight, and at seven years old, she’s a skinny little thing.

‘You sure, Millie?’

She nods.

I look down the table at my partner, Ash, and he smiles but shakes his head. I can’t help noticing the tinge of sadness in his gentle brown eyes, and I wish I could do something to wipe it away.


Ash’s brother looks up from his phone, which is resting next to him on the table. He grunts and I presume that means yes.

‘Do you think while we’re at the table you could put your phone away?’ I ask, not for the first time.

Sami and Nousha are Ash’s much younger siblings – collectively referred to by us as ‘the kids’. Ash has spent his life – or at least since he was in his teens – taking care of them both, and even though Sami is now thirty and Nousha twenty-six they still have a tendency to behave like teenagers. I love them, though, and enjoy their company.

‘Jo’s right,’ Ash says. ‘We’re delighted that you’ve joined us for Sunday lunch, but it’s not much of a pleasure if you don’t participate in the conversation. If Nousha can abide by our one and only rule, so can you.’

Sami gives his brother a disdainful glance, but leans forward to give me a fake smile.

‘I’d love some more of your potatoes, Jo. Thank you. They are quite delicious.’

We all know he’s taking the piss, but that’s Sami. When Ash’s mother left home, deserting her children – including Nousha, who was little more than a baby – their father buried himself in his work and ignored his children. They’ve suffered as a result. Both of them lack discipline, and now Sami floats from job to job, lives in squats or friends’ flats, and turns up here whenever he wants a good meal.

Nousha has tried a little harder and has a job. Ash pays for her small apartment because she says she doesn’t earn enough to pay for that and for the clothes she needs. My Ash is a bit of a soft touch.

Sami’s phone beeps, and his eyes instantly go to it. I can see Ash is about to lose it, so I decide to pre-empt an argument.

I push my chair back and march round the table. Grabbing Sami’s phone from the side of his plate I stomp across to the dresser, open the bread bin, shove his phone inside and close it.

Millie giggles, and Ash tries not to smile as I wink at him.

‘I can’t believe you just did that?’ Sami says, but even he is grinning at my audacity.

‘Our house, our rules. Feel free to leave the table, collect your phone and go into the sitting room at any time.’

Sami knows that will be the end of his Sunday lunch, and there’s rhubarb pie to follow. I may not be housewife of the year, but I’m a good cook.

I turn to Nousha. ‘What have you been up to this week, Noush? Tell us something exciting.’

We all nod enthusiastically as she talks about the club she went to with her friends, and I think back to when I was her age, wondering if I treated life in such a carefree way. I don’t think so. I had no big brother to bail me out, and only an uninterested mother who was more intent on bagging her next husband than worrying about her daughter’s errant ways. She is already up to husband number four, and I’m getting no sense at all that she’s ready to quit.

At Nousha’s age I was totally convinced that I was going to be the next Meryl Streep, although as I hadn’t gone much beyond a few walk-on parts in the odd soap and a few roles in an amateur repertory company, I’m not quite sure what I based my conviction on. But I had to take care of myself and rarely had the money to go clubbing.

Her story is interrupted by Ash’s phone, sitting on the dresser next to – but not inside – the bread bin.

‘Excuse me,’ he says, standing up from the table.

Sami’s mouth drops open and he stares at me. ‘How come he’s allowed to use his phone, and I’m not?’

‘What’s your brother’s job, Sam?’ I pause for a nanosecond and raise my eyebrows. ‘Ah yes! I can see you’ve remembered. He’s a paediatric surgeon with patients – children and babies – recovering from operations he’s performed. He’s not exactly in a position to tell the hospital not to bother him while he’s eating his lunch, is he?’

Sami’s not bad really. Ash says he’s rebelling against their father, although it’s about time he realised that the man himself – thousands of miles away in Abu Dhabi – has no idea how his younger son is behaving and has even less interest, so it’s a bit of a waste of effort.

Ash stares at the screen, a worried frown on his face. ‘Sorry, everyone. I do need to take this.’

I cast him a concerned glance as he walks out of the room and closes the door softly behind him. I hope there isn’t a problem with one of his patients.

Before I can give it another thought, my own phone pings. A text message.

Sami gives me a look, wondering if I’m going to get up from the table to read it, but he has nothing to worry about. I’m certain I know who it’s from and what it says, and I feel a shiver of premonition.

Perhaps my perfect Sundays are going to be over sooner than I thought.


**********THE AUTHOR**********


Rachel Abbott is the bestselling author of the Tom Douglas series of books, and more recently the Stephanie King series, which together have sold over 4 million copies and have been translated into over 20 languages.

Website: http://www.rachel-abbott.com Facebook: rachelabbott1writer Twitter: @RachelAbbott Email: rachel@rachel-abbott.com #RightBehindYou

Right Behind You BT Poster Two .jpeg


COMING 16TH JANUARY 2020 Ebook and Paperback Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime ISBN: 978-1-9999437-3-8




Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

Blog Tour for Robert Bryndza’s new book Nine Elms. Published January 9th 2020 by Sphere


Nine Elms blog tour .jpg

It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you my review.  Thanks to Francesca Banks of Little Brown for my stop on the tour. The copy I read was one I picked up from Theakston Crime Festival back in July.



**********BOOK DESCRIPTION**********

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.

Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there’s much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.


book clipart


This is the first book featuring a new main character, Kate Marshall, and the first Robert Bryndza book I’ve read.

The premise for the book is very clever; Kate was the police officer who caught a serial killer at great personal cost, she’s had to leave the police and is now a lecturer at a South Coast university using her own infamous case as a lecture. Now she has been asked to investigate a possible earlier death by still-grieving parents at the same time an apparent copycat killer is re-enacting the original murders.

As the book progresses we learn more about what happened to Kate after the initial investigation – the book starts with the harrowing identification of the killer – and how it still impacts each day. Kate’s reluctance to get involved given her history and her subsequent growing obsession with both the unsolved murder and the copycat case are well written, as is the development of the character of her academic assistant, Tristan, from a distant administrative support to trusted confidant and investigative partner.

The story crosses over with the official police investigation of the copycat, simultaneously there are those who trust Kate because of her experience in the original case while others distrust and are suspicious of her being drawn into the current crimes. This seems real. At the same time the developing private investigation of Kate and Tristan into the earlier disappearance is well written, with the parents drawn sympathetically and the link to the original murders painstakingly revealed.

Running through the story is the malevolence of the original killer and the madness of the copycat Both characters are drawn without sympathy, the developing reasons for the copycat and the pace of the killings draws the story along. It’s clear before the end who the copycat is and why he is following but the suspense of bringing the story to a conclusion is maintained to the very end.

Check out this link to the first chapter of the book on the Crime Vault website;

An extract from Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

Bryndza is the author of the #1 bestselling Detective Erica Foster series which I will now have to check out!

Here is the link for where you can buy the book; https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/titles/robert-bryndza/nine-elms/9780751572704/


**********THE AUTHOR**********



Links to Robert Bryndza social media:





Five French Hens by Judy Leigh

Blog Tour for Judy Leigh’s new book Five French Hens  Published December 5th by Boldwood Books.

Five French Hens Blog Tour Banner.png


It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you all an extract from the book.  Thanks to Megan from Boldwood Books for my place on the tour.

five french hens


**********BOOK DESCRIPTION**********

When 73 year old Jen announces that she is going to marry Eddie, a man she met just a few months previously on a beach on Boxing Day, her four best friends from aqua aerobics are flabbergasted.

The wedding is booked and, when the groom decides to have a stag trip to Las Vegas, the ladies arrange a hen party to beat all others -a week in the city of love, Paris.

From misadventures at the Louvre, outrageous Parisian cabarets, to drinking champagne with a dashing millionaire at the casino, Paris lives up to all their hopes and dreams. But a week can change everything, and the women that come home have very different dreams from the ones who got on the plane just days ago.



The table in the café was a mess: Rose wouldn’t have allowed the polished wooden one in her dining room to get in such a state. Tess covered her lips as she smiled – there were cake crumbs, paper wrappings, slops of coffee across the plastic surface. She imagined Alan’s face if he came home and their oak table was in such a state of disarray. Della swept crumbs into her hand. Pam was more concerned with finishing the contents of a second bottle of sparkling water and, when she dumped the empty container back on the table, it toppled over on its side, spattering little puddles in its wake. Rose wondered if Pam’s house was as untidy. She supposed since Pam had always been single, as far as she knew, no one had been around to complain about untidiness. But then, Pam had never had anyone to keep the house nice for either, she thought. Jen was unusually quiet, staring at her fingernails.

Della dabbed her mouth with a paper napkin and dropped it on her plate. ‘That was such good cake. Nearly as good as I make myself.’

Pam sank her teeth into her slice. ‘We deserve a treat.’ She thought for a moment. ‘It’s a shame we haven’t got a bottle of wine or two. I haven’t had a good celebration in ages.’

‘Are you thinking of a girls’ night out?’ Tess chewed at a fingernail. ‘What a lovely idea. We could get all dressed up, go somewhere nice…’

‘Dancing…’ Della suggested.

‘Clubbing,’ Tess offered. ‘There are some really great places for a rave-up in Exeter.’

‘Rave-up?’ Pam spluttered, wiping her mouth. ‘What decade are you in, Tess?’

Tess winked. ‘I don’t care as long as there are plenty of drinks flowing and some fun to be had.’

Rose pulled a thoughtful face. ‘What about a birthday? Who’s next? I’m not until December.’

‘A girls’ night out would be fab.’ Pam drummed her fingers on the table. ‘Do we need an excuse?’

‘We could just go out and party – without any excuse at all.’ Della chuckled.

Jen took a breath. It was time. This was her cue. She held out her left hand to reach for a slice of cake, wiggling her fingers exaggeratedly. Light caught the diamonds and they winked, shooting flashes of rainbow colour. Della sat up straight. ‘What’s that on your finger, girl?’

Three voices trilled at the same time. Tess leaned forward. ‘Oh my God, no! Tell me she hasn’t…’

Della sighed. ‘It’s a diamond ring. How beautiful…’

Pam screeched. ‘When did that happen?’

Jen’s face broke into a wide smile she couldn’t hold back. ‘Two days ago. Valentine’s night. Eddie asked me… and the next day, I said yes.’

Rose frowned. ‘It’s a bit quick, isn’t it? You’ve only known each other since Christmas. It takes me longer than that to decide which cut to get at the butcher’s.’

‘I think it’s lovely,’ Tess breathed. She was thinking of the emptiness of her own life when Alan was at golf, and how the walls held cold silence in them every day.

‘Congratulations.’ Pam banged a fist on the table. ‘Well, here’s our excuse for a night out.’

Della grabbed Jen’s hand. ‘What a wonderful ring. The diamonds are huge. Where did you buy it, Jen?’

Jen waved her hand for all to examine. ‘Eddie chose it. He just sprang it on me. He came in for coffee…’

‘Coffee…’ Della laughed.

‘I bet he did.’ Tess snorted.

‘… and he asked me to marry him and produced the ring. Of course, I did the sensible thing and asked for more time to think about it.’ She wiggled her finger again. ‘Then the next morning, I said yes and Eddie took me to breakfast to celebrate. It was really lovely.’

Pam leaned back in her seat, stretching out long legs in jeans. ‘Well, how exciting. Congratulations, Jen. So, when’s the big day?’

Jen giggled. ‘We’ve been talking about it. Eddie thinks we should get married in six weeks or so. Late March, early April. A spring wedding…’

‘I hope we’re going to be your bridesmaids,’ Tess butted in.

‘Oh, we’ll probably just have a simple do. No fuss. A few friends – you’re all invited – and a quiet meal somewhere – probably the Olive Grove. Eddie wants us to live in my house. He said he can rent out his place and we’ll get a good income from it. He’s written all the figures down on a piece of paper.’

‘He sounds like a sensible man.’ Rose thought for a moment. ‘But there’s no fun in maths – what about the exciting bits like the honeymoon?’

Pam fluffed her short hair, making it stand up. ‘Eddie certainly sounds like he has it all worked out.’

‘And how do you feel, Jen?’ Della leaned forward. ‘Are you all excited?’

‘It’s like being caught up in a whirlwind…’

Tess grimaced. ‘Oh yes, it’s like that at first. All lovey-dovey. Then after a year or so, it’s smelly socks to wash and “the chops are a bit tough, Tess” and golf clubs in every corner of the room.’ She noticed Jen’s anxious expression and laughed, too high. ‘Oh, but that’s just Alan. I’m sure your Eddie will be completely different.’

‘Does he snore?’ Della asked, wrinkling her brow.

Jen pouted. ‘I’ve no idea. We haven’t…’

‘You haven’t sampled the goods yet?’ Tess giggled. ‘Is that a good idea?’

‘Eddie’s very proper… and respectful,’ Jen insisted. ‘We talked about a honeymoon. A long weekend in Lyme Regis. We’ll wait until then.’

‘Oh, I’d want to know he was man enough for the job before I married him.’ Tess winked.

Della’s face was serious. ‘I think you’re all missing the point.’ She met everyone’s eyes in turn, then she smiled at Jen. ‘It’s a wonderful thing. Our friend Jen is getting married. And we should all rejoice for her.’

Rose nodded. ‘Yes, congratulations, Jen.’

‘To years of happiness,’ Pam murmured.

‘I’ll drink to that.’ Tess nodded. ‘And that means a party.’



**********THE AUTHOR**********


Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

The Shop Girls of Harpers by Rosie Clarke

The Shop Girls Blog Tour

Blog Tour for Rosie Clarke’s new book The Shop Girls of Harpers. Published December 3rd 2019 by Boldwood Books.

It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you an extract from the book.  Thanks to Megan of Boldwood Books for my place on the tour.

the shop girls cover

**********BOOK DESCRIPTION**********

When Sally, Beth, Margaret and Rachel meet at a job interview for the wonderful new store in Oxford Street they have no idea they will become lifelong friends.

When all four girls are lucky enough to be selected as sales staff their exciting new adventure begins.

Join them as they overcome heartbreak and grief, find love and happiness and remain united in their friendship, whatever life throws at them.


Chapter 1

Beth took a deep breath as she crept past her aunt’s front parlour that sunny but cold morning in March 1912, but the harsh voice stopped her before she could reach the back door. She sighed and went to the parlour door, where Aunt Helen was busy at her sewing machine, her left foot working the black metal treadle in a steady rhythm.

‘Let me look at your shoes before you go,’ her aunt commanded without looking up. Beth smothered her anger, her blue-green eyes smouldering with suppressed passion. She was a woman, not a careless child, and would hardly leave for such an important appointment with dirty shoes. They were smart shoes that fastened with two buttons at the side and made of black leather, which shone so she could see her reflection in them

‘I spent ages on them last night,’ Beth said. She stood where her aunt could see her in her neat grey ankle length skirt, white blouse and darker grey jacket that nipped in at her slim waist. Her thick pale tresses were swept up neatly at the back of her head and she wore a black velvet hat that shaded her face and hid her hair. She carried black gloves to match her highly polished shoes. The colour did nothing for her pale complexion, but Beth had not yet ceased mourning her mother, who had died less than four months earlier. Besides, she would be expected to wear grey or black for work, or perhaps a uniform.

‘You look washed out, girl,’ Aunt Helen frowned, ‘but I suppose you can’t help that. You will merely be a salesgirl, so I dare say it does not matter.’ She removed her sewing from the machine and snipped the thread with a small pair of fancy silver-plated scissors. ‘Come straight back when your interview is over.’ She looked at Beth over the glasses she wore for her sewing.

‘Yes, Aunt,’ Beth replied meekly, though inside resentment stirred once more.

She was almost two and twenty and this was the first time she’d had to apply for a commercial situation. Beth’s mother, Jessie Grey, had been an invalid for most of the past ten years, since her husband died of a terrible fever. Mr Grey had been a brilliant doctor and their lifestyle had been comfortable, though after his death the money had been tight. When Jessie Grey’s inherited income died with her, Beth was left with very little. The news that her mother’s few possessions would be sold to pay their debts meant Beth was forced to accept an offer to live with her aunt, whom she knew through her infrequent visits over the years, though she sensed her aunt’s resentment and wondered at it. She could only think that Aunt Helen resented the fact that for a while Jessie had been loved and happy, while she had never married.

‘But why did she never tell me we lived beyond our means?’ Beth had asked her aunt when the solicitor had told them the awful news. The inheritance in her mother’s name was finished and nothing was left for Beth. ‘I could have perhaps worked…’

‘Jess was ever a little fool,’ Aunt Helen had said sharply. ‘She might have married anyone with her looks and background, but she chose a doctor who devoted his life to the poor and consequently left her nothing but a few pounds. Your mother lived off what our father left her and never thought of the future. You may live with me, but you must find work for I cannot feed and clothe you.’

‘I am perfectly happy to work, Aunt,’ Beth had said proudly, but unfortunately thus far she had not been able to find a suitable job. She was properly brought up and from a decent family, which meant she could not work in an inn or a factory. Aunt Helen thought she ought to look for work as a lady’s companion but, although Beth had applied for two such positions, she had not been lucky enough to be chosen from amongst the many applicants.

‘Well, I do not know why you were not chosen,’ her aunt had grumbled when she was told Beth had not been selected. ‘You’ve looked after an invalid mother for years and are capable of running after an old woman, I imagine.’

‘Lady Vera said she wanted someone with experience and Mrs Thompson said I was too attractive, because she has sons…’

‘Tush!’ Aunt Helen had looked disgusted, for it was obviously unfair. ‘Well, you must work, Beth – we shall look through the newspaper this Friday and see what is advertised…’

The large advert wanting staff for the new department store in what Aunt Helen said was the wrong end of Oxford Street took up half a page of the local paper. There were all kinds of positions on offer, including cleaners, office staff, as well as a floor walker, salesgirls and supervisors. The advert made it clear that Harpers was to be a prestigious store, set over four floors, with lifts, a café on the top floor and, it said, merchandise to rival anything in London.

‘It says here that training will be given,’ Beth had read aloud. ‘We are invited to write an application for an interview…’

‘Shop girl…’ Her aunt’s mouth had twisted in disapproval. ‘I must say that I never expected my niece would work as a common shop girl…’

‘I don’t think it is a common shop,’ Beth replied. ‘Harpers is to be a prestigious store.’


**********THE AUTHOR**********

rosie clarke

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire. Rosie’s brand new saga series, The Shop Girls of Harpers begins in December 2019.

Rosie’s Twitter @ AnneHerries

Rosie’s website: www.rosieclarke.co.uk

Amazon link to The Shop Girls of Harpers : https://amzn.to/32PeyaD


The Weekender by Fay Keenan



The Weekender Blog Tour 2Blog Tour for Fay Keenan’s new book The Weekender, published November 28th 2019 by Boldwood Books.

It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you an extract from the book.  Thanks to Megan from Boldwood Books for my place on the tour.

the weekender


**********BOOK DESCRIPTION**********

Holly lives and works in the beautiful town of Willowbury in Somerset. An incorrigible optimist, she is determined to change the world for the better.

Charlie Thorpe on the other hand, is the ultimate pragmatist. As Willowbury’s new member of parliament, he has to be. While he’s determined to prove himself to the town, as far as Holly’s concerned, he’s just another politician on the make.

But when their paths cross again, it’s clear they’ve got more in common than they think. Can Holly and Charlie overcome their differences and work together, or are they destined to be forever on opposite sides? And why does Holly have a funny feeling she has met Charlie before…

Let Fay Keenan whisk you away to a world of glorious country views, unforgettable characters and once-in-a-lifetime love. Perfect for all fans of Fern Britton, Veronica Henry and Erica James.



‘White sage is all very well,’ Holly Renton reflected, ‘but the ashes are a bugger to get out of the carpet.’ Earlier that morning, before the shop had opened, Holly had carried out a ritual called smudging, which was meant to purify the energy in a building, promote positivity and remove negative energies. Picking up the dustpan and brush, she emptied the pungent remains of the dried herb bundle she’d ignited and then wafted around the windows and doors of the shop into the bin.

‘I know you recommend this all the time for other people’s houses, but why are you so bloody obsessed with doing it in the shop?’ Rachel, Holly’s sister, glanced down at where Holly was still brushing the rug under the mullioned front window of ComIncense, the shop specialising in herbal remedies and well-being aids that Holly ran in the sleepy but nonetheless New Age small town of Willowbury and smiled. Just beyond the shop’s counter, the door that led to Holly’s small back yard was open and Harry, Rachel’s three-year-old son and Holly’s nephew, was playing happily with a set of wooden animal-shaped blocks in their own lorry, which had come from a box of assorted toys that Holly kept specifically for the younger customers. Holly didn’t believe, unlike some of her business-owning neighbours, that children should be banned from places like hers, and since the early-spring weather was warm and pleasant, Harry had trundled out into the sunlight to play.

‘You’ve got to refresh places from time to time,’ Holly replied. ‘Especially when there’s been a lot of negative energy about, and since all of the scandal with Hugo Fitzgerald, I really felt like this place needed a spiritual cleanse!’

‘You can say that again,’ Rachel reached under the wooden apothecary’s dresser that displayed countless jars and pots of dried herbs and flowers, all purporting to be of some spiritual or physical benefit, to retrieve one of the toy llamas that Harry had thrown under it. ‘What a way to go…’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Holly replied, still sweeping. ‘At least, having had a massive coronary, he wouldn’t have known much about it.’

‘But what a waste of a good plate of scones and jam!’ Rachel grinned. ‘Mum told me that his constituency agent found him face down in them at his desk.’

‘I wouldn’t have fancied digging him out of them,’ Holly said. ‘But from the size of him, the heart attack was an accident waiting to happen. And gossip has it, he had his finger in a lot of pies, not just the odd plate of scones.’

‘Oh, you know how the rumour mill goes into overdrive when something like this happens.’ Rachel, who had more of a tendency to see the good in people than her sister did, dismissed Holly’s comments with a wave of her hand. ‘I mean, I’m not saying he wasn’t a prat, but nothing was ever proven about his financial misdemeanours. Although, I have to admit, since he couldn’t have given a stuff about Harry’s condition, and getting access to these new drugs, I’m hoping the new guy will be more receptive to the cause.’

‘It’s still bloody unfair that he gets to swan in here and take the seat after only the quietest by-election,’ Holly grumbled as she replaced the dustpan and brush on the shelf behind the counter. ‘I mean, the guy’s only a year older than me and he’s been parachuted into one of the safest seats in the country. Even if we have a change of government, he’s unlikely ever to lose his seat. What if he’s just as crap as Fitzgerald and couldn’t care less about us here in his constituency? We’re stuck with him until he chooses to retire.’

‘Give him a chance,’ Rachel said reasonably. ‘He might be good for this place.’

‘Have you made an appointment to see him yet?’ Holly asked, glancing down to where Harry was now building a tower of exotic wooden animals that was getting more and more precarious the higher it got.

From the outside, Harry looked like any other energetic three-year-old, but on the inside, it was a different story. Weeks after he’d been born, Rachel had been launched into a perpetually revolving carousel of physiotherapy, medications and experimental trials in an attempt to alleviate the chronic condition, cystic fibrosis, that would, in all likelihood, limit Harry’s life. The latest medication, which might make a huge difference to Harry’s life expectancy, was currently being held up because the government was still negotiating with the pharmaceutical company involved over a reasonable price to supply it to the National Health Service. How it was possible to put a cost on a life such as Harry’s was a source of increasing frustration and heartbreak for Rachel and the family.

‘Not yet,’ Rachel sighed. ‘If Hugo Fitzgerald couldn’t be arsed to do anything other than toe the party line, then why should this new guy be any better? Especially if he is a total rookie. I doubt he’ll stick his neck out for Harry.’

Noticing Rachel was, unusually for her, close to tears, Holly hurried around from behind the counter and gave her sister a hug. ‘Don’t let it get you down,’ she murmured. ‘I’ll always be right there with you, campaigning to get this little munchkin the treatment he deserves.’

‘I know,’ Rachel replied, giving Holly a shaky smile. ‘I’m fine, really. It’s just when he has a bad day, it reminds me of the challenges he’s facing, which will only get worse as he gets older. And knowing that the new medications could potentially make those challenges so much easier to face…’

‘We’ll get there,’ Holly said. ‘I’ll be with you every step of the way, like I always have been. And I still think it’s worth a punt with this new guy, you never know.’

‘I’ll try and get in to see him over the summer,’ Rachel replied, breaking the embrace from her sister and grabbing the last of the wooden animals to add to Harry’s tower of jungle wildlife. ‘Can I make a drink?’

‘Of course,’ Holly said. ‘I’ve got some organic fair-trade matcha tea in the kitchen.’

‘Is that the super-energising stuff?’ Rachel asked. ‘After being up with Harry last night, I could certainly do with a lift.’

‘Honestly, it’ll keep you going until midnight!’ Holly said. ‘Go on… you know you want to.’

‘All right,’ Rachel replied. ‘But if I end up buzzing around Willowbury like a wasp for the rest of the day, I’m blaming you.’

‘Fair enough. And make me a cup, too,’ Holly called as Rachel disappeared up the stairs to Holly’s flat above the shop. Popping the dustpan and brush behind the counter again, she continued the conversation, since Rachel had left the door to the flat open. ‘Perhaps I should give this new guy the benefit of the doubt,’ she said, adjusting the labels on the jars of dried herbs and plants on the dresser so they all pointed uniformly outwards. ‘After all, new blood could be a good thing.’

‘Perhaps we should be fair and reserve judgement until he’s been in the job a few months,’ Rachel said over the bubble of the kettle. ‘You never know, he could be just the tonic this place needs, politically.’

‘You always try to look on the bright side, don’t you?’


**********THE AUTHOR**********


Fay Keenan is the author of the bestselling Little Somerby series of novels. She has led writing workshops with Bristol University and has been a visiting speaker in schools.  She is a full-time teacher and lives in Somerset. Fay’s new series for Boldwood will begin with The Weekender in November 2019.

Fay’s Twitter @ faykeenan

Fay’s profile on Boldwood Book’s website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/fay-keenan/

Fay’s Instagram: @ faykeenan

Fay’s website: https://faykeenan.com/

Fay’s Facebook: faykeenanauthor

Amazon link to The Weekender : https://amzn.to/2NpI9Ur

Publication date: November 28, 2019


ISBN: 9781838892074
RRP: £ 12.99


ISBN: 9781838892098
RRP: £ 1.99


ISBN: 9781838892067
RRP: £ 12.99


ISBN: 9781838892234