Alice #BlogTour @K_L_Loveley #Extract #Giveaway @emmamitchellfpr

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on K L Loveley’s Alice blog tour! 🙂

Alice - Blog Tour BannerExtract…..

**Mine is extract 3 so please make sure you read extracts 1 & 2 over at Bookalicious Travel Addict & Kristin’s Novel Cafe**

The days in the classroom were long, the evening lectures tiring, but the late night socializing was a revelation for Alice. Her first week of many she would spend at summer school was a tremendous success and most enjoyable. Her children constantly encouraged their mum with her studies and were both so proud. Four years later, along with Robin and Alice’s mum, they watched Alice climb the stage at the Harrogate International Centre to accept her BSc in biological science. Throughout the first year of her studies, her divorce had been proceeding.

Alice knew it was in motion and had accepted the outcome as inevitable, so was well prepared when the divorce absolute came through.

Having experienced the single life for a year, Alice wondered if she preferred this easy, uncomplicated lifestyle. Although she enjoyed the attention of a few of the men who could be considered suitable for a long term relationship, none of them truly appealed to her and the idea of becoming intimate on any level filled Alice with fear. She had only been intimate with one man and he had betrayed her. Alice wondered if she would ever be ready to give herself to another man. That was until she met Robin. They had met briefly in the past. His first wife had worked as a physiotherapist at the hospital and on occasions, as couples, they had enjoyed meals out together, during which the men had the usual male conversations around sport and politics and the women chatted about their children and the latest hospital gossip. Therefore, having previously met, their first encounter was as old acquaintances catching up on each other’s lives and discussing family.

Over many months their friendship blossomed into love and a remarkable thing happened to Alice. She finally learned to trust another man. Eventually, six years after her marriage had ended, she was ready to be a wife once more. Despite the battering her trust had taken, Alice never lost faith in the idea of love. She had considered herself to be happily married once, and she was not disillusioned with men; just the one that had mattered to her.

Robin watched his wife and a little smile of satisfaction lightened his face. Although still petite and practically perfect, she had managed to gain the two stone in weight he had encouraged when they first met. Robin had never hidden the fact from Alice that he would like her to gain a few pounds. When Alice had asked what he had seen in her if he desired her to be a size larger, Robin answered that he had seen potential.

This did not necessarily convince her. Sometimes she wondered if he preferred her to resemble his first wife, who was three dress sizes larger than herself. Despite this, she had managed to gradually increase her weight over time and while her friends were all desperately trying to shed a few pounds Alice had been able to enjoy the freedom of choice at meal times. Contentment within her marriage in the early years had increased her appetite, aiding Alice with her quest.

As Alice left the bedroom, she heard Robin switch on the television with the remote control. She knew he would be watching the news channel to catch up on current affairs and as he so often joked, “I have to watch the news, we might be at war.” Alice laughed at this, but recently she felt she was already at war within herself, struggling to make a very important decision. Alice stepped carefully off the last step of the stairs. The hallway floor had been removed and a temporary walkway installed by the builders leading into the downstairs cloakroom and the kitchen. She breathed a deep sigh, still feeling the distress from the flood damage that had occurred six months previously following weeks of heavy rain in most regions of England. Some areas had suffered extreme flooding with rivers bursting their banks, resulting in utter chaos with extreme property damage and many families were left homeless. The extent of the damage to their own home was a result of the soak away drainage system located beneath the front lawn being unable to cope with the torrents of rain which had run from the guttering. The house had been extensively extended by the prior owners, but despite the increased surface area of the roof and guttering, the soak away had not been enlarged to take the extra volume of water. The combination of the extreme weather and inadequate drainage had resulted in a breach of the damp proof layer of the property. It was the extension on the house which had appealed to them from the very first moment they had spotted the house. It had been sheer luck they had found the house, after many months of searching for a suitable location and a house large enough to accommodate themselves, Robin’s four grown up children and Alice’s son. Her daughter Anne Marie had no plans to live with her mum and stepfather as she was working in the city and renting a shared house with friends. However, a room would need to be available should her circumstances change.

The morning they discovered the house it was love at first sight, even before they viewed the property their gut feelings felt positive. Alice was so certain this was the place for them she couldn’t wait to visit the estate agent to arrange an appointment to view the property, but instead Alice promptly rang the doorbell and made direct enquiries with the home owner. The owner invited Robin and Alice to view their home there and then. With open minds they inspected the house. The house fulfilled all of their requirements. It had six bedrooms, a large kitchen, large utility room, a dining room, an L-shaped lounge, large bathroom, one en-suite bathroom and a downstairs cloakroom. The icing on the cake was a conservatory opening onto a private garden which was laid to lawn with established borders and a bank of conifers providing perfect privacy.

They both agreed this was exactly what they had been looking for. The house layout could have been designed with their own needs in mind. The location, a quiet cul-de-sac on a small development was most suitable to their needs. The driveway would easily accommodate four cars and with their family this would be essential.

Luck was with them; Alice sold her home within a week of Robin selling his. The capital from both homes enabled them to buy the house for cash, leaving them mortgage free. Their new home was available for them to move into on the same day as both the contracts on their individual homes were exchanged. Their wedding was held two weeks before the house sale. A one week honeymoon in Italy was arranged two days following their wedding, which enabled their respective children to remain in their own homes for one final week and for themselves to be around for the final packing and the big move.

A well-organized person, Alice had more or less packed everything ready for transferring into the removal van, with the exception of the large pieces of furniture and the white goods. Her large refectory table she herself dismantled, the chests and bedside cabinets were all dismantled and taped together. Her possessions were neatly boxed and labelled and the majority of the curtains and blinds had been taken down, washed and neatly folded away. Alice was well prepared. Unfortunately, neither Robin nor his family had made any attempt to prepare for the big move, despite Alice desperately trying to encourage Robin and his children to carefully pack and label their personal possessions.

On the day of the move from Robin’s house it was total disaster and chaos. Robin and his family tipped everything out of their drawers and cabinets directly into large black plastic sacks. Kitchen and bathroom objects were pushed into cardboard boxes with no care for the fragility of some items. A friend of one of the boys appeared with a trailer on the back of his car and this was used to take away broken and unwanted furniture to the local council dump. A number of visits to the dump were made, following removal of further items from the garage and loft. One by one the rooms were emptied until Alice could finally enter the house to clean through ready for the next occupant.

Despite Alice’s own carefully made plans to have a smooth transition from one home to the next, it had not materialised. The contracts were officially exchanged at six pm on a Friday, and all parties agreed to move on the Saturday morning. With this in mind, Alice had booked a removal van for early Saturday morning. However, the young first time buyer of her property was so eager, that at five o’clock on the Friday, he telephoned Alice at home, who wasn’t in, but Mathew was. He left a message saying that it was his house after six pm and he was moving in that evening. Mathew promptly rang his mum at work, resulting in Alice leaving early and frantically contacting the van hire company and arranging a van for Friday evening as well as Saturday morning in anticipation of storing her belongings overnight in a removal van. She rang Robin and some of her friends, who all rallied round and moved her whole home into a van, just as the new owner turned up with his own furniture van. The only saving grace of the whole event was the good fortune that the house Alice and Robin were buying had been emptied that afternoon so Robin collected the key Friday evening instead of Saturday morning. It was past midnight when they emptied the van of furniture, white goods and the many packing boxes and suitcases. Robin and Alice went to bed exhausted knowing they had to empty Robin’s house the next day. Between them they had five sofas, two washing machines, three fridges, two freezers, three double beds, four single beds, a number of chests, wardrobes, cabinets, tables, chairs and household goods. There were bikes, lawnmowers, garden tools and sundries, box upon box of kitchen equipment ornaments. Lamps and books, numerous bags of towels, bedding, curtains and clothes. The list had been endless. Finally they had moved into the house which was to become their dream family home.

Alice -by K.L Loveley - front cover

Publisher: Austine Macauley Publishers (6th February 2017)

Alice is near breaking point. Floods have left her beautiful dream home a damaged mess, her step children’s lack of respect is giving her migraines and, worst of all, her husband is giving her no support to lean on. Her life is slowly spiralling out of control.
When Alice’s daughter, Anne Marie, repeatedly falls victim to aggressive vandals, Alice finally can take no more. She decides to take control of the mess that has become her life, and finally frees herself from the chaos that has been bringing her down.
Freedom, however, isn’t as sweet as Alice first thought it might be. She finds herself yearning for something she can’t quite put her finger on. In her quest to find it, Alice finds herself turning to alcohol.

Buy a copy…..

Giveaway…..

Check this out for a prize…..

One lucky person will win the following #GoodieBag!!

  • Signed copy of Alice
  • Mindfulness for the frazzled’ by Ruby Wax
  • Mindfulness coloring book
  • Staedtler Colouring Pencils, (Johanna Basford Edition)
  • Pukka Relax tea
  • K.L Loveley mindfulness mug

Enter here…..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author…..

K.L Loveley is a contemporary fiction author from Nottinghamshire, who writes gritty, realistic novels which tackle medical and social issues.

The author has enjoyed a successful 47-year nursing career with the NHS, during which she acquired vast skills. She has transferred her medical knowledge, and incorporated her excellent human observation skills into writing interesting stories about people affected by social and medical issues.

Her debut novel, ‘Alice’ tackles alcoholism head-on, and presents the reader with an empathetic account of a spiralling addiction and the resulting pattern of hopelessness that many fall into.

K-L-Loveley 2000px

K L Loveley’s Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

 

Q&A with author, Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @Bloodhoundbook @sarahhardy681

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Graham Smith 🙂

Graham Smith Author Pic

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

I’m a 44 year-old manager of a Gretna Green hotel and wedding venue and when I’m not working I read or write. I have two series with two separate publishers and they feature, Jake Boulder; a Utah bouncer who can’t help but get involved in the hunt for a serial killer and DI Harry Evans; the head of a Cumbrian Major Crimes Team. The Boulder novels are crime action thrillers whereas the Harry Evans series are more your traditional police thrillers.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

I tend to get my ideas from everywhere and nowhere. I’ve had them from abstract thoughts, news items, overheard conversations and scenes I’ve seen in real life and on TV.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

All my characters have elements of people I know as well as people I do or don’t want to be. I don’t do this deliberately, it’s more a case of drawing on life experiences when creating characters.

How do you pick your characters names?

This is a constant thorn in my side and I spend a lot of time agonising over character names as chosen properly, a name can convey so many things, such as, age, religion, ethnicity and class.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I don’t have any great secret. I just put my bum in the seat and write. I tend not to plot too far in advance although I generally know what the ending should be even though I don’t know how I’m going to get the story to that point. This means that the story is fresh and exciting for me as I’m writing it.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

The five authors whose books go straight to the summit of Mount To-BeRead are Tom Cain, Stuart MacBride, Matt Hilton, Craig Russell and Michael J. Malone.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’m very lucky to have already met most of my writing heroes, but I’d love to meet Michael Connelly and I’d ask him how he’s managed to maintain such a high standard of writing for so many years.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Very much so. I was an only child until I was thirteen and after that there was a huge age gap between me and my siblings so I have read constantly since the age of eight. I’m very proud to say that my own son is also a huge reader.

When did you start to write?

I started in my late thirties and although a late starter, I have had a wonderful journey and I hope I can continue until for many more years.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

I’d rewrite the end of Mein Kampf and have it tell a tale of a book killing its author. This may save a few million lives.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

The Da Vinci Code. In among all those clunky sentences, a good story is trying to break out. The fact it made Dan Brown a gazillionaire has nothing to do with my choice whatsoever.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

I’d choose Jack Reacher and I’d take him for a coffee in a really rough bar so I could watch him fight.

What are you working on right now?

I’m in the very early stages of the third book in the Jake Boulder series. I have a working title of Past Echoes and a head full of ideas, but that’s all I’m going to share for now.

Do you have a new release due?

The first in the Jake Boulder series is due to be released on the 25th of April and the second is currently with the publisher awaiting acceptance.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

I generally try to have a book launch but if not that, I would meet with friends and family for a glass of something non-non-alcoholic.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

The best way to keep in touch with me is via my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/ or on Twitter @Grahamsmith1972

I also have a website www.grahamsmithauthor.com where folks can sign up for my newsletter and catch up on all kinds of stuff about me and my writing.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Just that I really appreciate my readers and love interacting with them.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Graham 🙂

Thanks also to Sarah Hardy, at Bloodhound Books, for arranging this interview.

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (25th April 2017)

WATCHING THE BODIES: An utterly gripping new crime thriller

When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive. But who will it be?

Pre-order your copy…..

Author Bio (courtesy of Sarah at Bloodhound Books):

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, WATCHING THE BODIES in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/?fref=ts

https://www.grahamsmithauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972?lang=en-gb

Graham Smith’s Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

 

 

Reader/Writer events in #StokeonTrent @SoTLibraries

Here’s the latest news on poetry, reading and writing events in Stoke-on-Trent Libraries:

Friday 28 April, 7:30pm, City Central Library

Harry Baker poetry performance

We’re all looking forward to this event, which is now fully booked. If you have reserved a ticket but can’t make it, please do let us know, so we can give your place to someone else. And do collect, and pay for, your tickets in good time on the night, as uncollected tickets may be released before the event begins. Thank-you!

Chris Tutton Poster

Monday 8 May, 2pm, City Central Library

Poetry as Healing workshop

Poetry as Healing is led by poet Chris Tutton, and explores how reading and writing poetry can help with anxiety, stress and depression. The workshop is free, but places are limited and must be booked in advance.

Contact City Central Library to book your place (01782 238455; central.library@stoke.gov.uk)

Saturday 3 June, 11.30am-1.15pm, City Central Library

6X6 Book Launch – Winter Downs by Jan Edwards

In a special one-off event from the 6X6 team, Jan Edwards launches her new 1940 crime novel, Winter Downs. There will be readings from Jan and others, a question and answer session, refreshments (including cake), and the chance to purchase a signed copy of the novel. For more information, go to the 6X6 blog at https://6x6writingcafe.wordpress.com/

All are welcome at this event; contact City Central Library to book your place (01782 238455; central.library@stoke.gov.uk)

Tuesday 13 June, 7pm, City Central Library

6X6 Reading Café

In the return of the ever-popular 6X6 Reading Café, six local writers will have the opportunity to read their work aloud. If you’d like to take part, you have until 31 May to submit your work – take a look at the full submission guidelines at https://6x6writingcafe.wordpress.com/ . Anyone is welcome to attend this free event, so do get in touch if you’d like to come along.

Contact City Central Library to book your place (01782 238455; central.library@stoke.gov.uk)

 As ever, if you’d like to know more about any of these events, please do get in touch.

Win a copy of Winter Downs

Jan Edwards

For a chance to win a signed copy of Winter Downs  just sign up  for my newsletter via my Contact page or pm me with your email address between now and the launch on Winter Downs on 3rd June!

There will be a Tea and cakes 1940s Launch party!

11.30 am to 1.30 pm on3rd June 2017
Tolkien Room, City Central Library,
Bethesda St, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3RS
https://www.facebook.com/Janedwardsbooks/

RSVP

book offer open to UK only

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A Wedding In Italy #BlogTour #BookReview @TillyTenWriter @bookouture

I am over the moon to be joining in with Tilly Tennant’s A Wedding In Italy blog tour! 🙂

Many thanks to Kim Nash for inviting me to take part.

A Wedding In Italy blog tour poster

My review…..

This is another gorgeous read by Tilly Tennant, which was just as I expected after loving the first in this series, Rome Is Where The Heart Is. If you haven’t already read book 1 then I highly recommend that you do (you will find my review, along with relevant links, here: Rome Is Where The Heart Is by Tilly Tennant @TillyTenWriter @bookouture #BlogTour #BookReview), closely followed by A Wedding In Italy, as the story follows on.

I warmed to Kate straight away and I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her again. She is a very real and likeable character who is much braver than I would ever be. I like the fact that her move to Italy hasn’t been plain sailing as I think this makes it a much more realistic story. (Although we all like a fairy tale sometimes.) I love her beloved Alessandro, he is such a sweet character. They are an adorable couple, but not without their disagreements.

Alessandro’s family are amazing! I love his mother, especially, and the fact that there are lots of them and they are all so close. They remind me of my family, although we don’t all congregate at my Mums most days as they seem to!

I love how close Kate is with her two sisters also. It would be so hard for me to move away from my family (I struggled living in different counties, let alone countries!), so it very easy to understand how much she misses her sisters.

Kate doesn’t have it easy settling in to her new life and at times it seems like the world is against her and she, understandably, worries that she might have to admit defeat and move back home, but she’s not going to give up easily and thankfully she has her happy ending.

Beautifully written, as always. I highly recommend!

Many thanks, as always, to Bookouture for my auto-approval status on Netgalley and to the lovely Kim Nash for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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Publisher: Bookouture (14th April 2017)

Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to finding love, there’s no place like Rome…

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo.

All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material.

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?

Let Rome steal your heart this summer in this gorgeously romantic escapist read. Perfect for fans of Jo Thomas and Abby Clements.

Buy a copy…..

US http://amzn.to/2kN1UmF

About the author…..

From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage.  Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, like The Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel, Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.

Tilly Tennant

www.tillytennant.com

https://www.facebook.com/TillyTennant/

https://twitter.com/TillyTenWriter

Tilly Tennant’s Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

My Beautiful Disaster #BlogTour @Joannahughes77 #Extract @emmamitchellfpr

I am delighted to be joining in with J. D. Hughes’ My Beautiful Disaster blog tour! 🙂

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for inviting me to take part.

My Beautiful Disaster blog tour banner

I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you, but mine is Extract 3, so please do make sure you check out parts 1 & 2 over at The Opinionated Dad and Everywhere and Nowhere, if you haven’t already.

Chapter 2

Closing the door behind me, I could feel the tension in the room; a thick cloud of smoke swallowing every whole. Jesse was sat crossed legged in one of the chairs at the desk. He smiled jubilantly, almost bragging without words that he knew the secret I wasn’t aware of yet.

Please sit,” said Daniel, offering the seat beside Jesse and took his own behind the desk. “Jesse, you don’t have to stay for this.”

Are you kidding?” he argued excitedly. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Jesse wiggled his brows at me.

Ignoring him, I turned to Daniel with my hands knotting nervously in my lap. “What’s going on?” I asked, feeling unbalanced. “I take it things didn’t go well with Albert?”

Jesse snorted then wilted when Daniel stared at him in warning. Anxiety and apprehension rolled off my boss in waves. I’d never seen him this edgy before. Fidgeting with his tie, loosening it a little, he leaned forward in his chair and locked his eyes on mine. His grave expression, the way his body was rigid with unease, concerned me. Only the sound of the ticking clock could be heard as I waited for him to start.

My eyes flitted from one face to the other. I waited. And waited. Waited some more. “Look, will somebody tell me what’s happening?” I asked, breaking the dead air. “You’re scaring me. Is my job in jeopardy, Daniel?”

Your job?” he replied surprised. “No. No. On the contrary,” and waved the conspiracy away.

I sighed in relief. “So, what is it?”

Daniel swallowed hard and licked his lips. “Um…as you’re aware, Albert called. And as predicted, because Jennifer and I are the only remaining living relatives, we have been left his fortune which totals thirty billion. It’s to be shared equally between us once the legalities are sorted, which should be taken care of by the end of next week.”

Thirty billion?

Relief and shock encompassed me as I clasped my hands together in joy. “I’m so happy for you, Daniel. That’s more than enough to cover Ivy Pines.” I glanced over at the model which glowed brighter than ever before. It’s as though it knew it was about to be born. Daniel’s dream could finally come true and it would put him on the map. I turned back to him excited by the prospect. He however, remained unsmiling and unmoved.

See the thing is,” he continued, and dragged a hand down his colourless face. Usually, his natural sun kissed skin would be the envy of all sun worshippers. Instead, he looked as though he’d seen a ghost. “See. Here’s the thing,” he shuffled in his chair. “You see there’s…. Well…If you’ll bear with me. What it is…Um.” He looked up to the ceiling for inspiration. Wow, I had never seen the entrepreneur stuck for words. “You see, there’s a stipulation…Trust me you’re going to laugh,” he pointed at me. Then, his face fell in defeat. “Oh, for fucks sake Jesse, help me out here.” Daniel slumped back in his chair and sighed wearily.

I craned my neck to Jesse. He was amused by the whole scenario and leant forward, rested his elbows on his knees, a smile pulling at his mouth. What he said next blew my mind.

Daniel needs you to marry him, Sophia.”

Come again?” I said in surprise.

There’s a clause in the will that states only beneficiaries who are hitched will receive the monies. Because Jen is already married it doesn’t affect her, but unfortunately for your boss here, if he doesn’t marry by his thirtieth birthday,” he let out a small chuckle, “His half will be donated to various cat’s homes, which is fucking hilarious. I mean we all knew Uncle Icarus was an eccentric bugger at best, but a cat’s home? It’s bloody genius.”

This isn’t funny, Jesse,” berated Daniel.

Oh, come on, Daniel. Even you have to admit that it’s ruddy genius.”

Hold on. Was this happening? Have you ever had a moment where time stands still or you think that maybe you’re on a reality T.V show? That someone is about to pop out and yell Surprise? Yeah that!

This is a joke, right?” I chuckled behind my fist. “I mean, you’re not serious, surely?”

Deadly,” replied Daniel unwavering. “I have to be married within the next three weeks or I lose it all. There’s only two women I trust and as Jen is my sister, I can’t very well marry her, which leaves only you.”

Marriage? Was he mental?

For appearances sake,” added Jesse. “You wouldn’t have to have sex or anything, just live with each other, learn what makes you both tick, and prove to good ole Icarus’ lawyers that your marriage isn’t a sham. It’s for three weeks. It’ll be over before you can say Bob’s your uncle…. Well, Icarus in this case.”

I peeked suspiciously from smirking man to serious man multiple times. “Ha ha. Very funny you two. You almost had me there,” I giggled, shaking my head.

Sophia, this isn’t a joke. It’s real,” said Daniel in a steady voice, locking his eyes on mine. Jesse’s humour finally subsided which revealed it was anything but a wind up. Holy crap, it was real!

Of all the things I suspected when I walked in here, this wasn’t on the list. The world tilted on its axle as I contemplated the enormity of the situation. Of what he’d asked. My palms became clammy and my heart slammed against my ribcage. Marriage? Oh, hell no. I didn’t do marriage, fake or not. I was the hired help who picked up his dry cleaning, organised his schedule, took minutes in meetings, sweetened angry clients and placated his mother when necessary. The suggestion was ludicrous to say the least. It was fair to say I’d bent over backwards for Daniel Dukes and pushed the boundaries of my job title, but this? Well come on…. It was step too far for anyone with half a brain.

Daniel inhaled sharply observing me like an unsolvable puzzle. “Will you marry me? Pose as my fake fiancé for three weeks and help me out of this shit storm?”

You want me to be your wife? Are you crazy?” I yelped, with my eyes popping from my head, my hands gripping the leather armrests in panic.

The illusion, that’s all,” intervened Jesse, trying to soften the issue. “It’s not like you have a boyfriend anyway, and as far as I can tell, you’re as emotionally void as he is. It’s just one person helping another. What’s the issue?”

Emotionally void? Um…No I was not. Just careful when…Oh, fine, maybe I was emotionally void.

This was some weird twilight zone messed up shit that I wanted no part of. I stared hard at Jesse. “Whether I have a boyfriend or not, isn’t any of your business. It’s only been five minutes since you were flirting outrageously outside to get me into your bed, and now you’re palming me off on my boss? You’re a swell guy Jesse Martin.”

Sophia,” interrupted Daniel, as Jesse sniggered silently. “Listen— ”

It’s illegal,” I squeaked, rising from my seat. Pacing the floor behind the chairs with one hand on my hip, the other on my forehead, I stared at him uncomprehendingly. “You could go to prison. I could go to prison. Not that I would, because my answer is a solid no. Daniel, I’m all for you getting your money and will do anything to help, but marriage? Have you lost your mind?”

He cleared his throat and splayed his hands. “I’d take full responsibility if we were caught, which we won’t be. You’re my secretary. Flings at work happen all the time which is what makes this plan fool proof,” he said, as though indecent proposals like this happened every day.

Um…. Hello. Can you hear yourself?”

It’s three weeks.”

Can you hear the words that are coming out of your mouth?”

Three weeks.”

This is absurd. And there was I thinking you were smarter than this.”

He remained focused and forthright. “Three weeks. Look, I know this is very unorthodox and that I’m asking a lot, but you’re the only person who can help me. For the past two hours Jesse and I have discussed in depth countless women who might be able to pull it off, but none of them are you. They’re exes for a reason. I need someone I can trust to keep secrets, someone who won’t question my motives and do as I ask. Someone who I know won’t expect romantic involvement and confuse the issue. Because I’m not attracted to you in the slightest, this will work.”

Well, you’re no oil painting yourself,” I replied, horrified by his request. The room became hotter and hotter.

Glamour Magazine begs to differ,” laughed Jesse, and tapped the magazine with Daniel’s face on the cover. I scowled at him daring him to speak once more.

A frustrated growl escaped Daniel. “Shut up, Jesse. Sophia, I need that money. Everything I own is tied up in stocks and bonds for now. You’re my only hope.” His tone changed from a plea to intolerance.

No,” I said adamantly.

Do this and you’ll want for nothing.”

I chuckled an octave higher at the lunacy of it all. “No.”

Stop laughing and say yes. Ivy Pines needs you.”

No.” As I marched for the door desperate for air, he rose from his seat and rounded his desk to follow me. I wish I’d have opted for flats this morning instead of nude heels, so I could run like the wind out of his office. Out of the damn building. What was he thinking?

How does the tune of one million pounds’ sound?” he said, blocking my exit with an arm. His cologne invaded my senses, a blend of soap and apples with a hint of spice.

With my hand on the door handle and almost home free, I was gobsmacked. Eyes wide, I turned to face him. “A million pounds?” I whispered utterly shocked, my mouth slightly ajar. “You really have gone mad,” I breathed, wondering where the hell the genius Daniel Dukes I knew and admired, had gone.

A million pounds transferred into your account on receipt of ‘I do’.”

Biting down on my lip with shallow breaths, I studied him carefully realising his insane offer was genuine. Staring back at me, I realised he’d never been so serious about anything in his entire life. He was unblinking, consequential, a mountain that wouldn’t be moved until he got his own way. A million pounds might’ve been a drop in the ocean for the likes of Daniel Dukes, but a mighty big deal to someone like me.

Jesse laughed out loud and clapped his hands twice. “I knew she’d reconsider when she heard the amount.”

Daniel failed to hide his self-satisfaction knowing he’d got me good and proper. “Leave Jesse. It seems my secretary and I have much to talk about.”

What? It’s just getting interesting.”

Leave. Before I physically throw you out.”

Fine,” conceded Jesse, throwing his hands up in surrender. With that, I stepped aside allowing Jesse to slide out the door. “Be smart Sophia,” he whispered quietly. “Take the offer.” Then he was gone.

For a moment, Daniel and I gazed at each other. He stared with such intensity and towered over me, shadowing me with his height and broad frame. He broke the silence first.

Come.” Following him meekly to the leather sofas at the far end of the room, I took a seat while he poured amber liquid into two tumblers from the small bar. Passing me one, he took the seat opposite and began. “You’re the only person I trust. You know how much Ivy Pines means to me. I can’t do this without you.”

My heart genuinely broke for him. I’d seen the blood sweat and tears he’d sacrificed for the project, but to sacrifice who I was to help him? Too much.

It couldn’t work. Working side by side every day is one thing. To live with each other is another. Outside… I’m different. See, you and I are like chalk and cheese. You drink champagne, I drink chardonnay. You eat caviar, I eat…cheap Chinese. You’re super serious, organised and ridiculously O.C.D when it comes to cleanliness and order. I’m more of a free spirit and my flat is the pits. You’d have a panic attack if you saw how I live and have your Epi Pen at the ready. Besides, I can’t act for toffee.” My voice bordered on hysteria hoping he’d see sense.

That doesn’t matter,” he said shaking his head, rebuffing my efforts, circling the edge of his glass with his finger. “Lewis, I know your every little quirk. The way you bite your lip when you’re nervous. The way you tap your foot continually when I annoy you. The way you bite on the tip of a pencil when you’re concentrating. The way you only wear your favourite perfume on a Friday because you’re excited for the weekend. You love jelly babies but never eat the green ones. And you’re a sucker for helping someone in need, always giving a few pounds to the homeless guy on the street outside. I know more than you think. It’s my job to read people. It’s how I’ve gotten this far.”

He didn’t know anything about me. Not the real me anyway.

He shuffled forward, rested his elbows on his knees. His blue eyes met my browns, his index finger running under his lip. I knew this look all too well. He was going in for the kill. “This money could change your life in ways you can’t begin to imagine. Don’t tell me this is your dream job. I know there’s more to you than running around at my every command. Isn’t there something out there you want so badly, you’d do anything to get it?”

Yes! But a fake marriage?

How could he act so blasé over something so serious? I sipped the whiskey and it burned my throat when I swallowed. “You could have any woman you wanted.”

His usual type was tall, blonde, and dumb as shit. Not a petite, plain brunette who had a mind of her own. And that’s why he’d chosen me. Business.

He sat back comfortably, angled his body so one arm rested along the back of the chair and sighed. “I could,” he agreed. “But the less people who know about this the better. If the press got hold of this, I’d be ruined. Discretion is key.”

Your mother would see through us like a sheet of cellophane.”

Leave her to me.”

Jesus, do you have an answer for everything?”

He grinned as wide as the Grand Canyon, the two perfect rows of white teeth on full display. “You know I do.”

I heeded his words. If I agreed, my life would be turned upside down. Daniel’s striking mug hit the news daily. Papped with a different leggy blonde on his arm every week, he was no stranger to the front pages. They never lasted though. Once he got bored, he’d toss them aside and have me sending a bouquet of white roses as thanks. I’d become an overnight celebrity like him whether I wanted it or not, and have reporters digging through my background for the next big scoop. I couldn’t allow that. Couldn’t take the risk of what they’d uncover. Besides, Shane and the boys would pitch a fit if they saw me headlining. After all they did to protect and hide me all those years ago, this would be an ungrateful kick in the teeth. I liked being invisible. I couldn’t imagine leading the pretentious life Daniel did.

With my mind made up, I placed the tumbler on the table between us and pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose. “I’m sorry, Daniel. My answer is a firm no. I hope you find someone who can help you, but I’m afraid it can’t be me.”

Heading for freedom, I left a bemused man, used to getting his own way, positively puzzled. He was at my side in a flash, puffing out a frustrated breath raking through his glossy sable hair with his hand. “Is there anything I can offer that would make you change your mind?” he asked utterly circumvented. “There must be something you want. Name it, and it’s yours.”

I felt for him. I did. His attempt to coerce me to agree was applaud-able. But no amount of money would be enough to be thrust into the limelight. Stopping at the door and turning to face him, I brushed my hand over his upper arm gently. “It’s a great offer for a girl like me. If things were different….” I closed my eyes and shook my head. “I’m really sorry.”

Realising he had no choice but to accept my decision, he nodded slowly and pushed the door open. I walked out confident I’d done the right thing.

I had, right?

My Beautiful Disaster cover

Publisher: PublishNation (14th March 2017)

Daniel Dukes, millionaire extraordinaire, has it all. A thriving business, good looks, power, money and women who’ll drop their drawers at the click of his skilled fingers. Just how he likes it.

Everything changes one day when a stipulation in his deceased uncle’s will scuppers his visionary plans. The only way to get what’s rightfully his, is to marry. Who? It doesn’t matter, because the enigmatic bachelor will stop at nothing and play dirty to get what is his.

Sophia Lewis had nothing until she started working directly for Daniel at Dukes Industries. Having grown up in care, she’s tough, has an answer for everything and knows how to handle all varieties of men. For two years, Sophia has attended to her overbearing boss’ every whim. Gone above and beyond the call of duty.

When an indecent proposal presents itself, boundaries are pushed and limits are tested. Can Daniel and Sophia remain professional to fool the dead uncle’s lawyers? As lines become blurred and tempers become frayed, can two strong-willed souls be the key to unlock each other’s hidden secrets? Or will the high price of the deal come at a devastating cost to them both?
*Warning* Mature themes and one hell of a cliff hanger!

Buy a copy…..

About the author…..

J.D.Hughes writes fun, romantic suspense fiction. Born and raised in Worcestershire, she has lived in London and Northern Ireland but has returned to the city she loves.
Despite training in Musical Theatre and directing many productions, J.D. Hughes soon found she preferred making up her own stories, always completed with happy endings. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, walk her puppy and embarrass her three children. Her debut Novel ‘You Have My Heart’, published in 2016 was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite. ‘My Beautiful Disaster’ is the next release and is a two-part series.
To learn more about J.D.Hughes follow her Facebook page J.D.Hughes, or on Twitter @joannahughes77

J D Hughes

J. D. Hughes’ Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

 

A follow up from Mark Stewart @pendragonmist

I recently shared a guest post from Mark Stewart which you may remember, but if not, here’s a reminder: The Absence of Wings by Mark Stewart @pendragonmist

Today I have the pleasure of sharing another essay from Mark, which is a follow up to the previous post shared…..

Short stories just don’t sell, especially short stories written by unknown authors. This is the refrain I have heard in response to every submission I’ve ever made to an agent or a publisher. “I’m sorry, luvvie, but your stories just aren’t right for my list. Good luck elsewhere.” And yet in spite of such feedback I carry on writing.

There are plenty of nature books around but how many of them really tell the truth about mankind’s impact on the natural world? Humanity is running out of time to re-discover its sense of compassion, to finally stop its long and abusive relationship with nature. The oceanic biosphere is now heavily polluted, perhaps irreversibly so, with fish stocks dangerously near to collapse. Life on the land for animals in factory farms is no better; they must endure lives of unimaginable cruelty before suffering an early death. Other creatures, perhaps nobler and certainly far more innocent than humans, are being hunted to the point of extinction. And yet, in spite of a sense of impending ecological collapse, a sense that we are all standing on the gallows with the trap door about to open beneath our feet, I carry on writing.

I don’t have the enormous luxury and privilege of writing for a living. As a working dad I have to find time to write in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Either way it’s a hard slog, a struggle to find both motivation and inspiration. My mind won’t focus and my body wants to sleep. These lonely hours are what Tolkien referred to as “the bitter watches of the night”, when the dream of securing a mainstream publishing contract seems as remote as the Moon. And yet I carry on writing.

My stories are despatches from the front line of humanity’s war with nature. And like all war reporters I have been appalled and discouraged by what I’ve seen. But I won’t stop reporting back. The idea that nature is a commodity that must be exploited and consumed, that the creatures we share this world with are no more than disposable items, has to be challenged.

I was taken to task by one agent because my stories weren’t cheery enough for her taste (perhaps it was the same agent that claimed my short stories contained too many words). And yet I refuse to put down my pen or walk away from my keyboard. Because in the end I want to believe that things will change. Not just in the insular world of publishing which may one day come to value indie writers. But in the real world, where many of the animals described in my stories are struggling to survive. It is their stories that matter. They don’t have a voice and so must rely on others to speak up on their behalf. That is why I carry on writing.

You will find this essay, and others, HERE

Mark Stewart

Enjoy!

 

Q&A with author, Paul Harrison @PHarrisonauthor @WillandWhiting @MikeLinane

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Paul Harrison! 🙂

Many thanks to Mike Linane for arranging the following interview.

paul harrison.jpg

 

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

My name is Paul Harrison, and I’m a full time writer/author. I served as a police officer covering three decades, and worked on many major crime and murder investigations. I was fortunate enough to work with the FBI, and studied serial killers face to face. Over the years, I think I’ve interviewed virtually all the main killers at home in the UK and in the US. I’ve written over thirty books, mainly true crime. (I must check these out!) However, I have now moved into the crime fiction market, and my first novel Revenge of the Malakim, has been published by Williams & Whiting. It’s part of a trilogy, The Grooming Parlour. It’s a fast paced police procedural, I’m not giving any clues away, as I don’t want to spoil it for readers.

 

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Mainly, from real life experiences and cases I’ve worked. I love reading crime books, both fiction and non fiction. So I tend to know what’s been covered in the past. I have a creative imagination, which really helps with characters and plots.

 

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Well, the killer, as with all my killers, are based upon a combination of the serial killers I’ve interviewed. It’s a mixed bag of brains, brawn and cunning. My main protagonist, DCI Will Scott, is based on a few detectives, albeit he is unique and has his own personality and character.

 

How do you pick your characters names?

Glad you asked this. Will Scott, was in fact my great great grandfather. He was a writer and story teller in Victorian times. I wanted to use his name as a celebration of the writing genes he passed down to me. (How lovely!) The other character names just seemed to fit the personalities.

 

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I research my plot line, before creating a time line from beginning to end of what I want to include and when. Amazingly, it all falls into place. I sit and write for as many as hours as it takes to take the story where it needs to go. I’m not a night shift writer though. I like my sleep.

 

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

In no order. Mark Billingham. Agatha Christie. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Malcolm Hollingdrake and Jonathan Goodman.

 

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

It would have to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I would want to know how he plotted each Sherlock Holmes story, and where he got his inspiration from?

 

Were you a big reader as a child?

Kind of. The books I read were mainly adventure stories, but I loved the Famous Five too.

 

When did you start to write?

My first book was published back in 1989. However, I was writing stories when I was in the police, quiet night shifts flew by…

 

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

Marley and Me. I love dogs, and hate it when a book ending sees them pass away. I’d make them immortal if I could. (Me too, Paul!) Sadly, it wouldn’t be representative of life, so it can never happen.

 

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I love it, the films are good but the book is a great read.

 

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Felicity Harvey who appears in Revenge of the Malakim. She’s a real personality.

 

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on book two of the Grooming Parlour Trilogy. It’s called The Dark Web and is published by Williams & Whiting.

 

Do you have a new release due?

Revenge of the Malakim has just been released. Book two of the trilogy, The Dark Web, is due out this summer.

 

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

I have a nice meal and a bottle of decent wine. All a bit low key, but it suits me fine.

 

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I have a website www.paulharrisonbooks.co.uk I will be producing a newsletter with competitions, etc. Also I’m on facebook Paul Harrison Author and twitter with the same title. I’ve also got a website for my fictional DCI. Www.DCIWillScott.com

 

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I’m donating a percentage of my royalties to a keeping children safe from abuse charity, so every book sold really does count. (I have bought my copy Paul!)

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Paul 🙂

Publisher: Williams & Whiting (14th February 2017)

It’s high summer and the streets of Bridlington East Yorkshire are awash with tourists. A serial killer is on the loose. DCI Will Scott and his team embark upon a fast paced investigation to catch a killer with a unique agenda. As the body count rises the killer randomly moves location and the police are unwittingly drawn into a dark and sinister world where cover-ups and corruption reigns. A place where no one can truly be trusted and nothing is ever what it seems.

Buy a copy…..

Paul Harrison’s Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

Looking for Tours

Can any of my lovely book blogger friends help out my lovely local author friend? 😊

Jan Edwards

I am currently compiling my blog tour for June for Winter Downs – if you are interested in taking part just drop me a line!

eArcs will be available for review after 15th April

Winter Downs – pb date 3rd June 2017 | Penkhull Press
Paperback £7.99 tbc  | ebook £2.99 tbc

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

Winter Downs: First in the Bunch Courtney Investigates series.

Winter Downs is published by Penkhull Press and…

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