The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Contemporary fiction

Opening Lines: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

It’s time for another in the popular blog series “Opening Lines.”

This week I’m delighted to welcome Linda MacDonald to my site to share the first 500 words (precisely) of her novel, The Man in the Needlecord Jacket.

Over to you Linda…

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is told from the perspectives of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership.

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

I was inspired to explore the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical.  Here are the first 500 words …

Sarah’s Story – July 2013

In early December last year, my life took an ominous turn. It was a time of grey skies and drizzle-filled days and when Coll came over to my place for a midweek supper. I had finished decorating the small Christmas tree, tidied leftover tinsel and trinkets into a carrier bag and was sitting at my dining table putting stamps on my cards ready for posting. He arrived with a local Exeter paper in his hand and he waved it at me with a flourish before plonking it down in front of me, scattering my neat pile of cards.

No hello or how are you? I could tell he was on one of his missions. I would have to listen before I spoke, and then perhaps feign enthusiasm for yet another wild scheme which would take a good half hour in the telling. His eyes were excited and there was a smear of green paint on the back of his left hand. It’s interesting how one remembers trivial details surrounding major events.

He said, ‘I want to find an outlet for my paintings and try to seize some of the Christmas present-buying market. There’s a new restaurant opened this side of Pinhoe. I might try there, if someone hasn’t already beaten me to it. Look, it says “locally sourced produce”.’ And he jabbed a finger on the advert in question, demanding my scrutiny. ‘The clientele might appreciate local art too. Can’t get much more local than me. I’ll go and have a meal there on Friday and see what it’s like.’

I noticed he said ‘I’ll go and have a meal.’ Not ‘we.’ He saw my narrowed eyes.

‘You won’t want to be hanging around while I talk pictures,’ he said.

It would have been nice to have been asked. He was always inclined to do what he wanted without considering my feelings. A man of impulses. Highly annoying but also part of the attraction because when the impulses included me – which they did often at the start of our relationship – life was sublime.

‘Good idea,’ I said. I thought it was. I had no inkling that it was going to be the worst idea in the world.

Felicity – Early December 2012

My new restaurant has barely been open a week when I am hovering near the entrance lobby and a table for one is requested by an attractive middle-aged man. I assume he is on business, but as we are outside the centre of Exeter on the edge of a small village, this is unusual. Also, he is clad

like a rock-star in faded denim and a dark grey needlecord jacket. Not the favoured garb of my clientele who are usually besuited or, that most broadly interpreted of phrases, smart-casual.

I show him to a small table by the window and give him a menu. He requests a glass of house white in a voice of liquid gold. In my mind, I begin to elaborate on…

***

You can find out what happens next by purchasing The Man in the Needlecord Jacket from – Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Needlecord-Jacket-Linda-MacDonald/dp/1788037111/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

About the Author

Linda MacDonald is the author of four independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham, Kent.

Twitter: @LindaMac1

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

***

Many thanks Linda. Great extract.

Come back next week to read the first 500 words from Liz Mistry.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

It’s Thursday – which means it is ‘Opening Lines’ day.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Nicola May back to my site to share the first 500 words (exactly) of her brand new novel.

Over to you Nicola…

Blurb

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy.  While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, the will states that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

 Rosa decides to throw herself into getting the shop up and running again. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay will work secretly to see her fail?

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, slowly unravels the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also brings her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

***

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay – The First 500 words

‘Are you sure you’ve got the right person?’

Rosa took off her bright blue woolly hat and scratched the back of her head, causing her dark brown curls to become even more unruly.

The tall, pinched-faced solicitor nodded. ‘Yes, of course we have. Evans, Donald and Simpson do not make mistakes. You, Miss Larkin, are now the official owner of the Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay.’

He handed the bewildered twenty-five-year-old a battered leather briefcase and pointed to a small combination padlock on its brass clasp.

‘Here. The will stated that you – and only you – can open this, using your date of birth.’

‘This is all very strange,’ Rosa said.  ‘And where exactly is this Cockleberry Bay?’

‘Devon, dear, Devon.’  The solicitor looked under his rimless glasses. ‘I take it you know where that is?’

‘I may have a cockney accent, Mr Donald, but I’m not stupid.’

‘Well, open it then.’ The solicitor was shifting from foot to foot in anticipation. He confided, ‘We’ve been wanting to know what’s in there for days.’

Showing no emotion, Rosa gazed at him with her striking green eyes and asked coolly: ‘Is there anything else I need?’

‘Er, no – but are you not going to . . .?’

‘I need to get to work.’ Rosa put her hat and scarf back on, zipped up her fur-lined bomber jacket and headed for the door. ‘Thank you so much for your help.’

And she was gone.

‘Rude!’

The solicitor peered crossly out of the window of the offices in Staple Inn and watched as the young woman, the briefcase in her arms, strode across the frosty cobbled courtyard and out into the bustle of London’s ancient legal quarter.

*

‘You’re late again, Rosa. This is a discount store, not a charity shop.’

‘Oh, turn that frown upside down, Mr Brown. I’m here now, aren’t I?’

But there wasn’t even a glint of the usual smile from her now reddening supervisor.

‘I’m going to have to let you go, Rosa. I need committed staff and to be honest, I don’t think you know what that word means. You’ve had all your warnings. I will speak to Head Office, and they will settle your final pay.’

Rosa sighed. ‘Really?’  When Mr Brown said nothing, she picked up the briefcase from the floor and added: ‘Whilst you’re at it, maybe you could tell them I’ve been wanting to stick this shitty, unfulfilling job right up their pound-coin-shaped backsides for weeks anyway.’

*

Rosa’s elderly neighbour was putting a holly wreath on her front door when she arrived at home, mid-morning.

‘You’re back early, dearie.’

Rosa murmured under her breath, ‘And Ethel Beanacre wins the award for the Nosiest Neighbour of the Year.’

‘What was that, love?’

‘Nothing, Ethel, just talking to myself.’

The sight of the worn briefcase secured further interest.

‘Robbed a bank, have you?’ Ethel’s awful cackle reminded Rosa of Catherine Tate’s ‘Gran’ character.

Rosa scrabbled for her key. ‘Don’t tell anyone, will…

***

Available from 9th April – you can pre-order your copy of The Cockleberry Bay here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corner-Shop-Cockleberry-Bay-ebook/dp/B07B8KML35/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Bio

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay is Nicola May’s ninth novel. In 2012 she won Best Author Read at the Festival of Romance for The School Gates and again in 2014 for Christmas Evie. Nicola likes to write about love, life and friendship in a realistic way, describing her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick’.

Nicola May lives near the famous Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.  Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

Follow Nicola on Twitter: @nicolamay1

See her on Instagram: author_nicola

She also has her own Nicola May Author Page on Facebook

Find out more about her and all of her books at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW

***

Fabulous stuff. Thanks Nicola.

Come back next week to read the first 500 words from one of Kate Thompson’s novels.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

I’m delighted to have Bea Stevens with me today, sharing a little from her brand new romance:

Best Foot Forward.

Blurb

Liberty ‘Libby’ Lawrence adores designer labels – even though she can’t afford many. And she especially loves shoes. Her favourites are Christian Louboutins – though not those fake ones Bianca Morrison-Wright gets from the market (the red paint rubs off the soles and everything!)

She’s working as a manager (albeit junior manager) at a London hotel, when the boss announces that there has been a theft from his office. Libby couldn’t help noticing some strange marks on his carpet when she was called in for a reprimand recently (not that it was her fault, or anything) which lead her to surmise who the thief is.

Detective Sergeant James Harper, the hunky policemen who is assigned the case, seems interested in her theory – until she names her number one suspect. Libby is devastated, not only because he doesn’t believe her but – more importantly – that this guy knows NOTHING about shoes!

As Libby struggles to convince the sergeant that her hunch is right, her boss that she’s ready for promotion and herself that she’s not really falling for the gorgeous copper, she realises that maybe she’s wrong about the theft, she’s not suited to the hotel industry and that the handsome hunk is married!

Excerpt

I’m busy watching a yummy copper-haired guy who’s just walked through from the bar and is looking around. It’s him. It’s Mr Handsome Hunk himself.

Oh my God.

My heart pounds like a bass drum.

Cassie’s nearest and goes up to him, seating him on table twelve, just next to the deuce by the window. That’s a table of two, by the way, not just a tennis term.

I quickly pick up a menu and head over, trying not to catch the attention of the two reporters on the next table. Cassie’s eyes flash at me as our paths cross, and I suspect she’s thinking the same as me – what a stud!

‘Good afternoon, sir.’ I smile as I hand him the menu. ‘The soup today is potato and leek, and I’m afraid we’ve run out of lamb.’

He doesn’t even smile as he takes the menu from me. There’s a thud in my stomach.

‘Pity, I quite fancy lamb today.’

I daren’t tell him what – or rather who – I fancy.

‘Sorry, sir.’

He frowns; I hope it’s not because of the lamb.

‘Just be careful of the vegetables,’ Ben calls over from the next table.

‘You’re okay if you just want a pea, though,’ Rob chimes in with a chuckle.

Very funny. I shoot them a dirty look, stick my nose in the air and walk away. Or at least, I would have walked away if my heel hadn’t got caught in the tablecloth as I spun around. I yelp as my ankle twists and there’s a clatter of silverware as the contents of table twelve hurtle through the air, firing all around me like bullets as I fall with a hefty slam, ending up sprawled across the floor in between the two tables.

‘Libby, are you okay?’ Cassie’s there in an instant. I peer up gingerly, having covered my head with my arms in case the wineglasses came crashing over me.

‘I think so,’ I say, sitting up carefully.

The reporters on table fourteen are laughing hysterically, while the man on twelve is shaking his head and holding two glasses in his hands.

‘I’m really sorry.’ I slowly stand while Cassie gathers the cutlery.

‘I saved these.’ The man hands me the two wineglasses. ‘Perhaps I could sit at table thirteen instead?’

‘I’m afraid we don’t have one,’ I murmur. ‘It’s considered, um…unlucky.’

***

If that’s whetted your appetite, you can buy Best Foot Forward here: https://tinyurl.com/y7hajzqm

***

Bio

Bea lives in the beautiful countryside of Shropshire, England, but is never averse to taking a trip to the local (and not-so-local) towns to check out the big stores for new shoes and bags (all in the name of research, of course J).

She has worked mainly in catering and admin, but had to give up her job when her fight against breast cancer took another downward turn. An eternal optimist, she took the opportunity to write – something she has always loved. Every cloud… and all that!

She hopes very much that you share her sense of humour and that you enjoy her first Chick Lit novel, Best Foot Forward.

Please feel free to contact her at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeaStevens/ 

***

Many thanks for sharing your lovely new novel with us today Bea.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Jenny xx

 


Coffee and Champagne: Lazy weekend reads

I went on quite a journey with the main characters in the ‘Another Cup of….’ series of books, from the full length novel Another Cup of Coffee, through three Christmas novella’s, (Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds and Christmas at the Castle), and then the final full length novel, Another Glass of Champagne!

Amy, Kit and Jack were all in the their thirties when I began to tell their intertwined stories of love, friendship and coffee sipping. By the time I’d finished the adventure they were in their forties, and facing the fact that age doesn’t give you the answers to your problems. In fact, all it does is add to them…

Blurb

A warm-hearted, contemporary tale about a group of friends living in a small corner of busy London, by bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Fortysomething Amy is shocked and delighted to discover she s expecting a baby not to mention terrified! Amy wants best friend Jack to be godfather, but he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack finally reappears, he s full of good intentions but his new business plan could spell disaster for the beloved Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and ruin a number of old friendships…

Meanwhile his love life is as complicated as ever and yet when he swears off men for good, Jack meets someone who makes him rethink his priorities…but is it too late for a fresh start?

 Author Kit has problems of her own: just when her career has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write and there s a deadline looming, plus two headstrong kids to see through their difficult teenage years…will she be able to cope?

A follow-up to the runaway success Another Cup of Coffee.

***

Why not put your feet up and indulge in some coffee and champagne this weekend?

If you’d like to see how the story ends, then you can buy Another Glass of Champagne from all good bookshop and e-retailers. (You don’t need to have read the previous novels to enjoy this one)

Buy Links – Another Glass of Champagne

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/188-7813436-7626710?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

***

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Happy Valentine’s Day: Robin Hood Style

Valentines

To celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little of Romancing Robin Hood– my part romance/part medieval mystery novel- with you.

 

 

***

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance is based on the life of Dr Grace Harper, a medieval history lecturer with a major Robin Hood obsession. So much so, that instead of writing a textbook on medieval life, Grace is secretly writing a novella about a fourteenth century girl called Mathilda, who gets mixed up with a real outlaw family of the day, the Folvilles. As you read Grace’s story, you can read the medieval mystery she is writing alongside!

The problem is, Grace is so embroiled in her work and passion for outlaws, that real life is passing her by.

RH- E Flynn

With her wedding approaching fast, Grace’s best friend Daisy can’t help wishing a similar happiness to her own for her Robin Hood loving friend…

Extract

…Daisy hadn’t grown up picturing herself floating down the aisle in an over-sequinned ivory frock, nor as a doting parent, looking after triplets and walking a black Labrador. So when, on an out-of-hours trip to the local vet’s surgery she’d met Marcus and discovered that love at first sight wasn’t a myth, it had knocked her for six.

She’d been on a late-night emergency dash to the surgery with an owl a neighbour had found injured in the road. Its wing had required a splint, and it was too big a job for only one pair of hands. Daisy had been more than a bit surprised when the locum vet had stirred some long-suppressed feeling of interest in her, and even more amazed when that feeling had been reciprocated.

It was all luck, sheer luck. Daisy had always believed that anyone meeting anybody was down to two people meeting at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, while both feeling precisely the right amount of chemistry. The fact that any couples existed at all seemed to Daisy to be one of the greatest miracles of humanity.

She pictured Grace, tucked away in her mad little office only living in the twenty-first century on a part-time basis. Daisy had long since got used to the fact that her closest friend’s mind was more often than not placed firmly in the 1300s. Daisy wished Grace would finish her book. It had become such a part of her. Such an exclusive aim that nothing else seemed to matter very much. Even the job she used to love seemed to be a burden to her now, and Daisy sensed that Grace was beginning to resent the hours it took her away from her life’s work. Maybe if she could get her book over with – get it out of her system – then Grace would stop living in the wrong timeframe.

Daisy knew Grace appreciated that she never advised her to find a bloke, settle down, and live ‘happily ever after,’ and she was equally grateful Grace had never once suggested anything similar to her. Now she had Marcus, however, Daisy had begun to want the same contentment for her friend, and had to bite her tongue whenever they spoke on the phone; something that happened less and less these days.

Grace’s emails were getting shorter too. The long paragraphs detailing the woes of teaching students with an ever-decreasing intelligence had blunted down to, ‘You ok? I’m good. Writing sparse. See you soon. Bye G x’

The book. That in itself was a problem. Grace’s publishers and colleagues, Daisy knew, were expecting an academic tome. A textbook for future medievalists to ponder over in the university libraries of the world. And, in time, that was exactly what they were going to get, but not yet, for Grace had confided to Daisy that this wasn’t the only thing she was working on, and her textbook was coming a poor third place to work and the other book she couldn’t seem to stop herself from writing.

‘Why,’ Grace had forcefully expounded on their last meeting, ‘should I slog my guts out writing a book only a handful of bored students and obsessive freaks like myself will ever pick up, let alone read?’

As a result, Grace was writing a novel, ‘A semi-factual novel,’ she’d said, ‘a story which will tell any student what they need to know about the Folville family and their criminal activities – which bear a tremendous resemblance to the stories of a certain famous literary outlaw! – and hopefully promote interest in the subject for those who aren’t that into history without boring them to death.’

It sounded like a good idea to Daisy, but she also knew, as Grace did, that it was precisely the sort of book academics frowned upon, and she was worried about Grace’s determination to finish it. Daisy thought it would be more sensible to concentrate on one manuscript at a time, and get the dry epic that everyone was expecting out of the way first. Perhaps it would have been completed by now if Grace could focus on one project at a time, rather than it currently being a year in the preparation without a final result in sight. Daisy suspected Grace’s boss had no idea what she was really up to. After all, she was using the same lifetime of research for both manuscripts. She also had an underlying suspicion that subconsciously Grace didn’t want to finish either the textbook or the novel; that her friend was afraid to finish them. After all, what would she fill her hours with once they were done?

Daisy’s mobile began to play a tinny version of Nellie the Elephant. She hastily plopped a small black guinea pig, which she’d temporarily called Charcoal, into a run with his numerous friends, and fished her phone from her dungarees pocket.

‘Hi, Marcus.’

‘Hi honey, you OK?’

‘Just delivering the tribe to their outside quarters, then I’m off to face the horror that is dress shopping.’

Her future husband laughed, ‘You’ll be fine. You’re just a bit rusty, that’s all.’

‘Rusty! I haven’t owned a dress since I went to parties as a small child. Thirty-odd years ago!’

‘I don’t understand why you don’t go with Grace at the weekend. It would be easier together wouldn’t it?’

Daisy sighed, ‘I’d love to go with her, but I’ll never get her away from her work more than once this month, and I’ve yet to arrange a date for her to buy a bridesmaid outfit.’

‘Well, good luck, babe. I’m off to rob some bulls of their manhood.’

Daisy giggled, ‘Have fun. Oh, why did you call by the way?’

‘Just wanted to hear your voice, nothing else.’

‘Oh cute – ta.’

‘Idiot! Enjoy shopping.’

As she clicked her battered blue mobile shut and slid it back into her working clothes, Daisy thought of Grace again. Perhaps she should accidentally invite loads of single men to the wedding to tempt her friend with. The trouble was, unless they wore Lincoln Green, and carried a bow and quiver of arrows, Daisy very much doubted whether Grace would even notice they were there…

***

RH- Ros 1

If that extract has whetted your appetite for more, Romancing Robin Hood is available in paperback, and e-formats from all good retailers- including…

Kindle –
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079J2WX55/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1517564497&sr=1-1&keywords=Romancing+robin+Hood
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079J2WX55/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1517564706&sr=1-1&keywords=Romancing+Robin+Hood
Paperback-
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane/dp/1999855248/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1517077297&sr=8-2&keywords=romancing+robin+hood 
https://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane/dp/1999855248/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517404290&sr=1-1&keywords=Romancing+Robin+Hood+Jenny+Kane

 

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Jenny x


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