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Currently Browsing: Jenny Kane

Blowing the Dust Off: Alison Rose’s Off the Record

It’s Day 7 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today my friend  and creative writing business partner, Alison Rose, is talking ‘Off the Record.’

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

 

Hello everyone, I’m Alison Rose, and I’m delighted to be Jenny’s guest today in her From the Archives blog.  I met Jenny at a meeting of the Bath and North Wiltshire chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association a few years ago and we’ve been firm friends ever since.  My first book deal was with Jenny’s publisher, Accent Press, and in recent months we’ve become business partners, running Imagine Creative Writing workshops and retreats together.

The book I want to share with you today is my first published novel, Off the Record.  Here’s the blurb:

“This is the chance of a lifetime, so don’t blow it! Journalist Kate Armstrong has always known that music icon Johnson Brand’s platinum-selling first album was written about his break-up with her mother, Alexandra. When Kate’s boss sends her out to interview the star himself, her life is turned upside down when her resemblance to Alexandra prompts Johnson to seek out her mother and renew their relationship. Kate suddenly has a lot on her plate – coming to terms with Alexandra and Johnson’s rekindling relationship, as well as keeping the two of them out of the public eye, all the while trying to resist the advances of Johnson’s playboy son, Paul. She thinks she has everything under control, until a threatening figure from the band’s past rears its ugly head. Will love tear them all apart … again?”

I was inspired to write Off the Record after watching the movie Grease on a rainy afternoon.  Off the Record actually has very little to do with the film, but watching Grease had sparked memories of the year that it came out – 1977 – when I was the English exchange student at a high school in Indiana, USA.  As I watched Grease with my teenaged daughter, I remembered the people I’d known in 1977 and wondered what they were doing now.  One of the boys had been a talented singer and that sparked my idea of a rock star. I was working for a Christian charity at the time and knew a lot of lady vicars… and so it began.

I started asking ‘What if?’ and the characters and story began to form – the divorced, aging rock star; the widowed lady vicar; his record producer son; her journalist daughter.  Could the older couple have anything in common after so many years apart? Would their children be able to overcome their desire to protect their parents and their suspicion of each other? And who was causing so much trouble for them all?

I loved writing Off the Record and I’m proud that it was the first of my books to be published. It was intended to be the story of love rekindled in middle age, but I couldn’t resist the call of the couple’s grown-up children, who shot sparks at each other right from the start.  So in Off the Record you get two love stories for the price of one! I guess I always wanted to be swept off my feet by a sexy rock star and so I had a lot of fun making it happen for Kate and Alexandra.

If you’d like to read Off the Record, here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Off-Record-Alison-Rose-x/dp/1783752491/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502203726&sr=1-7&keywords=off+the+record

Thanks so much to Jenny for inviting me along today and thank you for taking the time to read this.  I hope you enjoy Off the Record too!

If you’d like to know more about me and my writing, please visit my website at www.alisonroseknight.com and if you want to find out what Jenny and I are up to as Imagine… see www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

Many thanks Alison! Always great to have you pop by.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to find out what Jenny Harper is going to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Blowing the Dust Off: Rachel Brimble’s The Temptation of Laura

It’s Day 5 of my Blowing the Dust Off series. Today we are in the company of the fabulous Rachel Brimble. She is taking a peck at her Victorian romance, The Temptation of Laura.

Go grab a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…

 

The Temptation of Laura…

Despite the title of my second Victorian romance, The Temptation of Laura is not so much about the temptation of Laura herself, but the temptations life throws at her, the hero and many of the secondary characters. Temptation is all around us and more often than not, that temptation could be perceived as opportunity. It’s fear that holds us back from surrendering or resisting.

The book is set against the backdrop of Bath’s theatre world during the late 19th century. There were many changes happening, socially, economically and sexually during this time. The first whispers of the women’s revolution had begun to circulate…not that many men noticed until around 1903 when The Women’s Social and Political Union was founded.

The leaders and supporters of the group began to cause a stir––marching and petitioning for their right to vote. This is marked as a hugely significant and rightly respected time for women at the time. Men had no choice but to sit up and take notice when so many women banded together and refused to be ignored.

This leads me to the question of temptation…I love exploring this theme and all the imaginings it conjures. Each of us is faced with temptations (or decisions) every day and I, for one, am hugely guilty of making the easy, expected, even socially acceptable decision. My books tend to be about the women who do the exact opposite. What better way to earn a living than to create a woman you admire and want to see succeed in her chosen vocation, romance or spiritually satisfying path?

Laura’s story began in book one of my Victorian series with eKensington when she appeared as a secondary character in The Seduction of Emily. It wasn’t long before I knew she deserved a richer, more in-depth story of her own. As a prostitute struggling for a better life…a dreamer who longs to be onstage, I sensed Laura would be a joy to write and spend some time with over the course of 85,000 words. She didn’t let me down J

Hope I’ve ‘tempted’ you to read the book!

 

Here’s the blurb & buy links:

Laura Robinson has always been dazzled by the glamour of the stage. But perhaps acting and selling one’s favors are not so different—for Laura must feign pleasure with the men she beds to survive. Now, with her only friend at death’s door and a ruthless pimp at her heels, escaping her occupation seems impossible. Hoping to attract a gentleman, she attends the theater. Yet the man Laura captivates is no customer, but a rising star and playwright…

Adam Lacey has been driven to distraction since the moment he saw Laura. She is his ideal leading lady come to irresistible life—and so much more. Certain they can make the perfect team on and off stage, he is determined to win her heart—and discover her story. But that is precisely what Laura fears. And she has no idea that Adam harbors shameful secrets of his own. Will the truth free them to love—or destroy all their dreams…?

 Amazon US

 Amazon UK

 Barnes & Noble

 

Bio:

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had seven books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and an eight coming in Feb 2018. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Links:

 Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

 Many thanks Rachel, fabulous stuff.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what Jane Jackson is tempting us with.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 


Blowing the Dust Off: Kirsten McKenzie’s Fifteen Postcards

It’s Day 4 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today Kirsten McKenzie is taking time out from preparing for an archaeological adventure to tell us all about the fabulous novel, Fifteen Postcards.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

 

Travel Back in Time

Today I make the long journey from Auckland to Newcastle upon Tyne. Three different plane changes and one train trip will see me to my hotel in the centre of the city, where I suspect I shall then sleep for several hours. Why the long journey? I’m heading back to volunteer at an archaeological dig at Vindolanda, all in the name of research.

When I sat down to write my first novel, I didn’t plot or plan. I had no glorious ending in sight, I had merely made a sweeping statement to my family that I would write a novel when my youngest daughter started school, and so I did. I started with this paragraph:

“In a cramped little street, in a dusty corner of London, stands a set of two-storey brick facade shops. An architectural relic from last century, miraculously untouched by the bulldozers of modern developers. A greengrocer, a boutique, a gentlemen’s tailor, the ubiquitous Chinese dumpling shop, and The Old Curiosity Shop, an antique shop named after the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. The sort of shop passers-by would wonder if anyone ever went in or, indeed, whether they actually ever sold anything.”

That paragraph turned in ‘Fifteen Postcards’, a historical time slip novel traversing three continents and two centuries. It took me eighteen months to write, and even then it ended on a cliffhanger as the story grew too large for just one book.

A couple of months after ‘Fifteen Postcards’ was published by Accent Press, I turned up at Vindolanda for my first experience of volunteering on an archaeological site. And I fell in love. Every shovel full of dirt felt like a treasure hunt, but the sort of hunt where you all celebrate finding shards of pottery or slivers of glass. The most exciting article I found was a chair leg, beautifully preserved in the unique environment at Vindolanda.

It was that experience which dictated the direction the sequel to ‘Fifteen Postcards’ would then take. ‘The Last Letter’ was written in twelve months, and may include some references to digging up Roman statues….I’m not going to spoil the plot here!

Accent Press published ‘The Last Letter’ which again had an ending which nicely morphs into another sequel. So now my first novel ‘Fifteen Postcards’ has turned into a trilogy. It did that without me even realising, but time slip fiction does that to you. There are so many interesting threads of history you can weave into a storyline that you just don’t want to leave anything out.

My next book wasn’t the sequel to ‘The Last Letter’. Those characters needed to have a bit of time out, to sit around and stew in colonial New Zealand, or Victorian England, or underneath the rule of the Raj in India. While those characters were resting, I wrote ‘Painted’ a bloodless horror about an art appraiser and a houseful of malevolent portraits. Again, the antique dealer side of me couldn’t resist pulling in all the antique references.

Painted’ took eight months to write, so I’m getting faster which is a good thing! Now that’s out of my system I can revisit the wonderful characters from ‘Fifteen Postcards’ and ‘The Last Letter’ and maybe I’ll fling them into Roman Britain or modern day America? Who knows! But when I step onto the first plane today, I know that I will have my laptop with me, and two glorious weeks of free evenings to write in the most beautiful of locations, with very little responsibilities. And I’m imagining wonderful words will flow.

 

Kirsten excavating at Vindolanda

Author Bio
For many years Kirsten McKenzie worked in her family’s antique store, where she went from being allowed to sell the 50c postcards to selling $5,000 Worcester vases and seventeenth century silverware, providing a unique insight into the world of antiques which touches every aspect of her writing. Her time slip novels have been called Antiques Roadshow gone viral, and The Time Travellers Wife meets The Far Pavilions.

Her horror novel Painted was released in June 2017.

Now a full time author, she lives in New Zealand with her husband, daughters, and her SPCA rescue cat, and can be found procrastinating on Twitter.

Social Media Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kirstenmckenzieauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kiwimrsmac

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kiwimrsmac

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kiwimrsmac

Book Links:

UK Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Fifteen-Postcards-Travel-Solve-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00XXZIO0C

US Amazon: www.amazon.com/Fifteen-Postcards-Travel-Mystery-Curiosity-ebook/dp/B00XXZIO0C 

Many thanks Kirsten. What a great blog. I hope your excavation time is fantastic- not at all jealous…honest…

Come back tomorrow to hear what the lovely Rachel Brimble has to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Blowing the Dust Off: Marie Laval’s A Spell in Provence

It’s Day 3 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today I’m welcoming fellow Accent author, Marie Laval, to my place to talk about her French romance, A Spell in Provence.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

 

FINDING INSPIRATION IN PROVENCE 

People often wonder how writers find ideas for their novels. Although I can find inspiration from many different places – a song, a painting, a poem, or even a road map! – I can pinpoint the exact moment when I got the idea for my contemporary romantic suspense A SPELL IN PROVENCE. A few years ago I visited the lovely town of Cassis during a family holiday in Provence. We had an impromptu picnic lunch of baguette, ham and cheese on a village square and sat next to an old stone fountain with an inscription in Latin…and that was it!   

 

Fountains have a special place in the novel, but they are, and always were, very important in Provence. According to an old Provençal saying ‘Eici, l’aigo es d’or’, which translates by ‘Here, water is gold’ – and no wonder when you think how hot it can get in the summer and how parched the earth can be. Anyone who read the wonderful ‘Jean de Florette’ and ‘Manon des Sources’ by Marcel Pagnol, or saw the films, can remember the struggles and hardship the characters faced and their anguish of the characters when the water supply ran dry.

A SPELL IN PROVENCE is set near Bonnieux in the Lubéron region of Provence, one of the many hill-top villages dotting the countryside. My heroine leaves England and buys Bellefontaine, a ‘bastide’ (an old farmhouse) she renovates and plans to open as a guesthouse….until eerie things happen and jeopardise her dream. The hero of the story, Fabien Coste, is heir to an old aristocratic family and has turned his ancestral manor house into a luxury hotel. Once again, the manor house is based on a real place – the castle in Lourmarin – but I have of course changed a few details.

Another important setting in the story is the ancient village of ‘Bories’, which are stone huts dating back from the Iron Age, and which were still used as shelter by shepherds until a few years ago. You can also find isolated bories scattered in the landscape when you travel through Provence.

Provence is not only a beautiful place, it also has a fascinating history – in particular ancient history – which is pivotal to my novel’s story line. Before the Greeks, and later the Romans settled there, the Salyens were the largest Gallic tribe. By the 6th century BC, their main centre was Entremont, which is located on a plateau above what is now Aix-en-Provence.

There were other important centres, such as nearby Glanum. This settlement was dedicated to the Celtic god Glanis, and built around a spring known for its healing powers. The Salyens had the strange – some might say gruesome – custom of displaying the severed heads of enemies at the city gate. They left no writing but many statues of gods and warriors, some of them holding severed heads.

 

When researching and writing A SPELL IN PROVENCE, I loved surrounding myself with photos of hill-top villages, of old fountains and of lavender and sunflower fields. I grew up in Lyon and spent many holidays in the South of France as a child. Writing the novel brought back fond memories of playing in the sunshine, breathing in scents of herbs and flowers, and listening to the woody song of the cicadas.

A SPELL IN PROVENCE is published by Áccent Press and is available from http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00RVQO8RM

 ***

Blurb:

With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel. Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château.  As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.

A SPELL IN PROVENCE is published by Áccent Press and is available from http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00RVQO8RM

 

Excerpt

Shivering in the cold breeze despite her shawl, Amy joined the guests lining up to be greeted by Fabien, who in true lord of the manor style, stood tall and imposing at the top of the steps, with torches burning on either side of him.

          He might wear a black dining suit and a crisp white shirt instead of a suit of armour, but there was something untamed, fundamentally uncivilized and proprietary about the way he surveyed the crowd – as if he truly owned everything and everyone, like Frédéric had said, and Amy was seized by an irresistible, irrational and overwhelming urge to flee. She didn’t want to speak to Fabien Coste, didn’t want to put up with his arrogant ways. He could keep his fancy chateau, his contacts and glamorous guests, she didn’t need him. She would walk home. It wasn’t that far.

          She was about to step aside when he looked down and their gaze met. Shadows danced on his face. The torches hissed in the breeze, their flames shooting high in the air and reflecting in his green eyes, giving them a deep, dangerous glow. For the space of a heartbeat, the noise of conversations around her became distant and fuzzy, and all she could see was him.

          He walked down, took her hand and lifted it to his lips. Even though his mouth barely touched her skin, a flash of heat reverberated through her body.

          ‘Mademoiselle Carter – Amy, you’re here at last.’

          It was the first time he’d spoken her first name. He made it sound French, sensual and incredibly romantic. Aimée. Beloved.

          ‘Shall I escort you inside and introduce you to a few people?’

          Panic made her heart flutter and turned her brain to mush.

          ‘Well, it’s just that …’

          He arched a dark eyebrow, looked down, and smiled as if he knew exactly what she was feeling.

          ‘You’re here now. You might as well make the most of it.’

 

Author Bio:

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie studied History and Law at university there before moving to Lancashire in England where she worked in a variety of jobs, from PA in a busy university department to teacher of French in schools and colleges. Writing, however, was always her passion, and she spends what little free time she has dreaming and making up stories. She writes both contemporary and historical romance. ANGEL HEART, THE LION’S EMBRACE, the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL Trilogy are published by Áccent Press, as is her contemporary romantic suspense novel A SPELL IN PROVENCE. She also writes short stories for the World Romance Writers – Letterbox Love Stories and Escape to Africa – and has just signed a publishing contract with Choc Lit for another contemporary suspense novel to be published in 2018.

You can find Marie here http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/

and https://www.facebook.com/marielavalauthor?fref=ts

and https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6538479.Marie_Laval

https://twitter.com/MarieLaval1

 

Many thanks Marie. I’ve always wanted to visit Provence- I am inspired to head that way sooner rather than later.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read what Kirsten McKenzie has to offer us.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 


Blowing the Dust Off: Nell Peter’s By Any Other Name

It’s Day 2 of my Blowing the Dust Off series. Today we are in the company of Nell Peters (she of the end of the month blogging epics). She is taking a peak at her first crime novel By Any Other Name.

Go grab a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…

 

Hi Jenny – is it the end of the month already? Oh no, different gig – I’m here to waffle on about one of my backlist masterpieces! Silly me …

It was on (Friday) 25th April 2014, that I received an email from Greg Rees, then an editor at Accent, telling me he’d finished the complete MS of By Any Other Name and wanted to publish it – as he read through, he’d been flabbergasted not once, but twice apparently. Go me! The offer came as a huge surprise, since when he’d liked the original three chapter submission and asked for the rest, I’d rather dismissed the possibility of things going any further – I expected to receive yet another ‘not right for our list at this time’ or ‘I just don’t love it enough’ type rejection. I’ve had enough of those to metaphorically paper a medium-sized room, although funnily enough, none for that particular book, as I’d only just finished writing it. When I say ‘just finished writing’ I mean the final two thirds of a crime novel started so long ago I can’t actually put a date on it – except that it was just after Queen Victoria died.

The first third of BAON had to be rewritten too from memory, after #3 son managed to crash my PC spectacularly and send all my files spiralling into cyber space, without hope of retrieval – and I had no back-up, nada! Rookie mistake … I dipped into the rewrite now and again over the years, in between writing other stuff, and eventually got to the bit where everything had disappeared in a puff of ether. Then I had to actually start thinking how the plot would evolve and finish the thing – it actually took on a whole different outline to my original mental blueprint.

However, that Friday the excitement and anticipation of publication had to take a back seat very quickly, because the following day was GD Isla-Rose’s first birthday – and she was having a big party, for which I’d promised to make a pink princess fairy castle cake, plus oodles of buffet food. I mentioned the cake making to Greg and he very helpfully sent a link to an M&S creation that would have been perfect, except for the seven day waiting period. Damn! So, into the kitchen toddled the least domesticated female since Lizzie Borden’s stepmother served up that putrefied mutton …

Isla is #4 son’s (now) older daughter and he rocked up to, erm, help with the cake. By the time we’d finished many hours later, all book publication thoughts had left the building and the kitchen had suffered a snow blizzard, covered in flour and icing sugar (as were we!) But we were reasonably pleased/relieved at the result. Happy to report that of the too many people packed into their tiny house, nobody died of food poisoning from the party fodder and a good time was had by all.

The next week, my contract arrived, but before I could sign it (against the advice of the Society of Authors, I might add) my father was taken ill in Twickenham and I had to speed off to his bedside, via long distance trains and a tube strike. Dad was fine, of course – he’s a life-long hypochondriac, but even they become genuinely ill sometimes, and at eighty-nine it was a bit risky to ignore his protestations. I eventually managed to extract myself from his sick bay and return to my lap top in Norfolk to begin the process of whipping the MS into pristine shape for November release.

When the big day arrived, it was something of an anti-climax. There had been no pre-order, ARCs, trumpet or whistle blowing prior to the launch and apart from me posting on social media, the day passed unheralded with me gawping at the lap top. I joined some FB groups to get myself ‘out there’ – from one day to the next I went from being a no-group bod to belonging to four, and rising.

Once your book finally hits the cyber shelves, even as a very unsatisfactory print on demand, reviews are eagerly awaited and after a couple of weeks or so, one landed on Amazon for BAON – a 1*! At that time Accent used to put new releases on a freebie offer for a limited time to encourage sales and ‘Patsy’ (her name is ingrained in my memory forever!), I noticed, made a habit of grabbing any freebie going and rubbishing it, after reading just a few pages. If you have a healthy clutch of reviews, you can weather a low rating, but when it’s the first it takes ages to up your average, which is frankly depressing.

By Any Other Name is a genre-crossing crime novel and admittedly a bit Marmite. There are similarities to I Let You Go in that the plot stands on its head at about two thirds of the way through – it’s difficult to say much more, so why not read the blurb:

A summer job to die for – and people do.

Emily Kelly can’t believe her luck when she is employed as temporary companion to Sir Gerald Ffinche and falls in love with his son, Richard.

However, it’s obvious their happiness isn’t shared by all, when one tragedy is quickly followed by another; and as the body count mounts, subtle clues are left to incriminate Emily and destroy her relationship.

Police involved seem incapable of exposing the real culprit; perhaps a family member, one of the household staff, or someone else close to the Ffinches?

No one is above suspicion, and no one is safe until a psychopath is unmasked – or thereafter.

With a shoal of red herrings and a plot that turns quickly from almost-cosy to taut psychological thriller, this is an enthralling, chilling read that will appeal to those who relish the unpredictability of Clare Mackintosh.

    ‘Twists abound as love blossoms amongst the dead bodies in a genre-crossing novel with a dark undertow all its own.’

Marika Cobbold, best-selling author.

     Fancy reading an excerpt? Be my guest:

Chapter One

As Emily rushed around, scooping up all the stuff she needed to take to work, an advertisement in the local free paper caught her attention:

Footloose and Versatile Female, Aged under 35 years.

Must be free July and August. Telephone in complete confidence …’

Not much to go on, but what could possibly be worse than painting red crescent smiles on toy clowns’ faces day in, day out, until September, she asked herself. Exactly. She ripped out the bottom half of the page, folded it roughly and shoved it in her bag, before heading out the door at speed.

She’d recently finished the first year of a degree course in Psychology, passing all assignments with flying colours and notching up the requisite number of credits to enable her to continue – much to her tutors’ blatant amazement, her attendance record having won no awards. But without visible (or invisible) means of support, Emily had to take a holiday job in a local toy factory just to survive until the next loan cheque arrived on the doormat. Though the work was mind-numbingly awful, it was all she could get; she hadn’t been there long and for the third time in as many days, was about to miss the last bus that would deliver her to her paint pot on time.

She forgot all about the ad until lunchtime, when she was sitting eating crisps with Doreen and some of the other women who worked in the paint section.

‘What do you think about this, Dor?’ she asked, waving the scrap of paper under her nose.

Doreen adjusted her half-moon glasses and scrutinised the print. ‘Well, if I was ten years younger…’

‘And the rest!’ scoffed Peroxide Pam, who was reading over Doreen’s shoulder, gnashing her Wrigley’s for all to see and hear.

Doreen pursed her lips, ignoring Pam, ‘As I was saying, if I was ten years younger, Em, I’d apply for it meself – what have you got to lose?’

The arrival of Mr Spinks, their line supervisor, put an end to any further debate.

‘Come, come now ladies. Idle chatter won’t get the baby bathed – not in a month of Sundays.’ Spinks was a short, round man – a regular sleaze ball, who vastly overestimated his levels of charisma and importance. ‘The lunch break is finished – now back to your work stations, quick as you can.’ He clapped raw sausage fingers together, the effort of movement making his chins wobble.

She took a moment to suck the last traces of nicotine from her roll-up and stubbed it out on the handy ‘No Smoking’ sign provided – which meant the others left without her and she found herself alone in the locker room, with Spinks blocking the exit. Damn!

‘Well, if it isn’t Miss Smarty Pants…’ he was getting a little too close for comfort, ‘I don’t know why you think you are so much cleverer than the rest of us – just because you managed to cheat your way into university, that doesn’t make you any better than me…’ His damp breath was making her hair frizz and she wanted to get away from his horrible disrobing gaze.

Thank goodness, Doreen’s antennae were on top form. She reappeared at the end of the dingy corridor, ‘There you are, Em. I wondered where you’d got to – mustn’t waste company time, now must we?’ She smiled ingratiatingly at Spinks, who jumped back from Emily as though she had broken out in seeping plague boils.

He scowled, ‘Very good, Mrs Mason, that’s the Dunkirk spirit. Carry on, now.’

She started to follow Doreen, changed her mind and spun around to face him once more, ‘Actually, Mr Spinks, I’m working here during the vacs to earn money – that’s why everyone works here isn’t it, to earn money? I don’t think of myself as any better or any worse than anyone else – including you.’ She felt Doreen’s sharp tug at her elbow, ‘And the name is Kelly, Emily Kelly – not Smarty Pants. She left last week, I believe.’ Then she allowed herself to be dragged away.

Spinks stalked off in the opposite direction, gargantuan buttocks flubbing together and one arm held awkwardly behind his back, like Prince Charles. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know,’ he called over his shoulder.

‘Wazzock,’ hissed Doreen, not too loudly, ‘don’t you take no notice of him, Em, Mrs Spinks is probably keeping him on tight rations in the bedroom department.’ She inclined her head and winked a blue-shadowed crêpe eyelid.

‘I’m amazed there is a Mrs Spinks.’ Emily suffered a gruesome mind’s eye flash of him in the nude – even his spare tyres had spare tyres – which sent shivers up and down her neurological pathways.

‘Oh yeah, right under the thumb he is,’ Doreen was one of those people who seemed to know everything about everybody.

‘Does she have a Seeing Eye Dog and a white stick?’

Doreen shrugged, ‘Never met the woman in person, but I saw them out shopping on a Saturday once. She’s one of them scrawny, mean-looking women – probably a terrible nag. And Spinks never brings her along to the Christmas parties.’

‘Lucky escape for her, I imagine?’ Emily scoffed.

She looked genuinely shocked, ‘You must be joking! It’s the social event of the year round here.’ Emily made a mental note never to sink that low. ‘Okay, Miss Smarty Pants – time we was getting back to our work of national importance.’

Back at the production line, plastic clowns were standing all in a row, waiting for her to make them look happy and appealing and well worth their outrageous price tag. Doreen hitched up her weighty boobs with equally weighty forearms and waddled off to her seat, her lumpy backside straining to be free of the tight brown overall. As always, she was anxious to catch the beginning of The Archers – which was the highlight of her day.

Not being a fan of radio drama, Emily loaded her paintbrush with crimson gloop and settled down to switch off from life in the sweatshop and daydream her way through to clocking-off time. Johnny Depp featured regularly in her fantasy world and that afternoon, she was guest of honour at his sumptuous mansion, high in the Hollywood Hills. Dearest Johnny couldn’t do enough for her, waiting on her hand and foot as she soaked up the Californian sun at the side of his turquoise infinity pool, sipping vintage champagne through a sparkly straw.

Her imagination took a detour to that interesting advertisement and the possible scenarios it might throw up. Was it possible a terminally ill Adonis was searching for someone like her to sooth his fevered brow, during his final, tragic weeks? As a reward for her unstinting care, he would bequeath to her all his money, plus a controlling share portfolio in a selection of designer dress and shoe shops. Or could it be an eccentric zillionaire sought a beautiful, lithe young woman (such as Emily, obviously) to work an hour a day on his very own Caribbean Island? Naturally, her allotted tasks wouldn’t be too taxing – perhaps grooming the Guinea pig twice a week, arranging vases of exotic flowers to his satisfaction, pouring just the right amount of expensive, scented bath oil into his hot tub; that sort of thing.

If you’d like to read more, here’s the international link.

http://mybook.to/BAON

Toodles.

Nell Peters

***

Thanks Nell – fabulous blog as ever.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see which book Marie Laval is going to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


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