Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Author: Jenny Kane Page 1 of 101

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…

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 –
(Available via KDP for those who subscribe)
Paperback-

 

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Jenny x

 

Frost Falls at Christmas

I love a story set over the festive season, so when I discovered that the first in #ThePottingShed #series was to be published in time for Christmas, it was the only excuse I needed to include a festive celebration within the novel.

While Frost Falls at The Potting Shed doesn’t cover Christmas Day itself, it does include the run up to Christmas, and all that entails when running a plant growing business.

Frost Falls at The Potting Shed

Blurb

It has always been Maddie Willand’s dream to take over her father’s plant nursery. But after his sudden death, she is devastated to discover that she might lose The Potting Shed forever.

Maddie’s bossy older sister, Sabi, is joint owner of the nursery, and she’s convinced that the best thing for both of them would be to sell up.

Determined to keep the business going, Maddie can’t afford any distractions, but staying focused might be harder than she thinks. Especially when a major garden centre chain puts in an offer for the land – and her search for legal advice throws her into the path of attractive lawyer Ed…

As frost begins to fall over The Potting Shed, will Maddie find the strength to save her father’s legacy and open herself up to new beginnings?

Here’s a little snippet of The Potting Shed at Christmas time.

It’s morning – Maddie is thinking back to the evening before, when she and her sister, Sabi, decorated their small shop…

By the time they’d left it, the shop smelt like Christmas. Packets of star-shaped ginger biscuits lay next to a basket of cinnamon sticks. Next to these, a trug of locally made Christmas puddings — which Maddie hadn’t realised Petra had ordered — waited for their big moment on the festive dinner table. On the opposite side of the shop, an old fire bucket was filled with logs, around which Jake had placed small sacks of firewood to buy.

Mini olive trees, resplendent in silver and gold terracotta pots, lined the far wall, beneath the seed racks – all of which had been restocked – the lowest rung dedicated to seeds for children. A string had been hung across the ceiling, on which were draped individually designed Christmas cards showing every festive scene imaginable, from jolly snowmen to biblical nativities.

‘All that’s missing are wreaths and garlands.’ Sabi linked arms with her sister. ‘And I flatly refused to let Petra order any of those. I’d have made some if I had time, but sadly…’

Maddie laughed. ‘If you’d managed to knock up some wreaths and garlands as well as a grotto, and sort the market, I’d have started to think some sort of magic was at work here.’

‘Well,’ Sabi grinned, ‘I’ve never been averse to a Christmas miracle.’

‘It might take a miracle to make our money back on this, Sab. I hadn’t realised you and Petra had ordered in so much stock.’ Maddie rearranged a coil of tinsel that had escaped from its basket by the door.

‘It might, or it might be fine.’

***

With the memory of her sister’s optimism echoing in her ears, Maddie decided to head straight to the shop once she was up, in the hope that the festive atmosphere they’d created would bolster her mood for the day ahead.

Opening her curtains, she offered up muttered thanks. The rain had stopped, and a weak sun was highlighting a light frost that hung across the nursery. Maddie shuddered at the drop in the external temperature, wrapping her arms around her pyjamaed chest, and couldn’t help but admire the glisten of silver that tipped the Christmas trees and the gravelled paths….

 

You can buy a copy of Frost Falls at The Potting Shed from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Nook, Waterstones and all good retailers. It is available as a paperback, ebook or as an audiobook.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines: Christmas at the Castle

It’s time for the final instalment in the Opening Lines blogs for my Another Cup of…festive specials.

Today, I’m sharing the first 500 words from Christmas at the Castle.

Kit is off to Scotland!

BLURB

When hotshot businesswoman Alice Warren is asked to organise a literary festival at beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland, her ‘work mode’ persona means she can’t say no – even though the person asking is her ex, Cameron Hunter.

Alice broke Cameron’s heart and feels she owes him one – but her best friend Charlie isn’t going to like it. Charlie – aka famous author Erin Spence – is happy to help Alice with the festival…until she finds out that Cameron’s involved! Charlie suffered a bad case of unrequited love for Cameron, and she can’t bear the thought of seeing him again.

Caught between her own insecurities and loyalty to her friend, Charlie gets fellow author Kit Lambert to take her place. Agreeing to leave her London comfort zone – and her favourite corner in Pickwicks Café – Kit steps in. She quickly finds herself not just helping out, but hosting a major literary event, while also trying to play fairy godmother – a task which quickly gets very complicated indeed…

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘A wonderful short story to fill your heart with warmth and really put you in the mood for Christmas

‘A feel good festive read, with Jenny Kane’s trademark coffee, friendship and gentle humour’

‘This is the perfect book for curling up on the sofa with on a winter’s afternoon. Light-hearted and feel good fun’

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

Friday November 13th

Poking her head around the door of the Gift Shop Café, Charlie gave a sigh of relief. She’d managed to arrive before Alice for once.

Selecting their usual table by the window, Charlie smiled. Just for once it was nice not to have Alice, already comfortably settled and looking perfect, watching serenely as she battled her scarf, which always managed to knot itself clumsily, and her hair, blown every which way by the wind.

Hoping this was a good omen for the discussion to come, Charlie waved a greeting to the waitress, Mel.

‘Hi, Erin, Alice isn’t here yet.’ Mel put down a large coffee on Charlie’s table, ‘I’ll bring that weird latte concoction she likes over when she arrives.’

About half of the people in Banchory knew Charlie as Erin. Ever since she’d had her first book published under the name of Erin Spencer five years ago, the local papers had made a feature of her work, and Charlie lived happily with her dual personality.

As she watched the world go by through the window, Charlie’s usual habit of filtering future plotlines through the back of her mind was replaced with wondering how to persuade Alice that they needed more people to help organise Crathes Castle’s first ever literary festival. So far it was just the two of them, and they were drowning in the number of tasks involved with making it a success rather than an embarrassing flop.

Charlie hadn’t finished rehearsing her pleas for more helpers in her head, when Alice arrived.

Waving to Mel that she needed a drink fast (the concoction that Charlie always thought of as pseudo-coffee, which consisted of a decaf coffee, soya milk, and low-sugar caramel latte syrup), Alice sat down regally and swung her long, slim, tight black denim-covered legs elegantly under the table, before pushing her designer glasses off her eyes and up into her hair, neatly pinning it away from her face. If Charlie had tried to do that without the aid of a mirror she knew there would have been tufts of her long bouncy red ringlets sticking out at all angles.

A businesswoman through and through, Alice got straight to the point. ‘Charlie, sweetie, I know you don’t like working with other people much, but if we don’t get some more help soon this festival is going to be the biggest disaster of my career.’ Without giving her stunned friend time to comment, Alice went on, ‘It’s November 13th already. Our Christmas in the Castle Literary Festival is in exactly three weeks and we need another person to help us.’

Charlie was taken aback. Even when they’d been at university together Alice had been an expert at eliciting assistance from people without them even realising that she was getting them to do what she wanted. Never before had Charlie heard her admit she needed help. Studying her friend more carefully, Charlie noticed that there were dark shadows under Alice’s eyes, hinting that…

If you’d like to see what happens next, then you can buy Christmas at the Castle from all good e-retailers or you can find it in the Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.

mybook.to/ChristmasinCastle

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

 

Opening Lines: Christmas in the Cotswolds

This week I’m continuing my Opening Lines series, with a peep at the first pages of Christmas in the Cotswolds – the second festive special in the Another Cup of… series.

Blurb

Izzie Spencer-Harris, owner of the Cotswold Art and Craft Centre, is due to host the prestigious Cotswold Choir’s annual Christmas carol concert in her beautiful converted church. Or at least she was, until a storm smashed a hole right through the chancel roof!

Days from Christmas, Izzie suddenly finds herself up to her neck in DIY, with her last dodgy workman having walked off the job. She does the only thing she can… calls in her best friend Megan to help.

Leaving Peggy and Scott to run Pickwicks Café in her absence, Megan heads to the Cotswolds for Christmas. Within minutes of her arrival, she finds herself hunting down anyone willing to take on extra work so close to Christmas. It seems the only person available to help is Joseph Parker – a carpenter who, while admittedly gorgeous, seems to have ulterior motives for everything he does…

With Izzie’s bossy mother, Lady Spencer-Harris, causing her problems at every turn, an accident at work causing yet more delays, and the date for the concert drawing ever nearer, it’s going to take a lot more than Mrs Vickers’ powerful mulled wine to make sure everything is all right on the night…

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘This is a delightful short story with that lovely Christmas feel good feeling

‘An easy festive read that will make you smile

‘Very festive short story with lovely characters. . . Cosy, ideal reading for Christmas time’

‘Perfect for the Christmas season. Heartwarming, emotional and so true for today’s hectic, manic life. One to have, keep, and enjoy!!

FIRST 500 WORDS

Prologue

December 12th

Izzie closed her eyes and counted to ten as the door of the Cotswold Arts Centre slammed shut.

There was no point in panicking. She simply didn’t have time for such luxuries if her converted church was going to be ready to host a Christmas carol concert by the renowned Cotswold Choir in nine days’ time.

Bored of being propositioned by men who weren’t remotely interested in her until they discovered she was a daughter of the gentry, Izzie had ejected the carpenter through her front door before he’d quite had time to work out just how insulting her rejection of his latest lurid suggestion was.

Now, her hasty tongue having deprived her of a desperately needed pair of tradesman’s hands, Izzie sat with a heavy thump onto the nearest pew. She knew she had to find fresh help, and fast. A task that wouldn’t be easy so close to Christmas.

‘Although,’ Izzie addressed the image of Noah, who smiled benevolently at her from his stained-glass window, as if grateful he hadn’t been smashed to pieces by the tree branch that had come through the top of the chancel and caused so much seasonal inconvenience, ‘I’m damn sure I’m not asking my mother to help out ever again!’

Reaching for the offending package of invitations that had arrived by courier first thing that morning, Izzie emptied it onto the table. The invitations were supposed to have been posted by now. As soon as she’d seen them, Izzie understood why her mother had left them to the last minute.

Unfussy, cost-effective, and with a medieval Christmas flavour in keeping with the spirit of the converted fourteenth-century church where the concert was to be held. That’s what she’d asked for. What she’d got was decadent Victorian-style gold-edged invitations which weighed so much, Izzie was sure that posting them alone would break the bank. And if that wasn’t bad enough, her mother had done the one thing that she had expressively forbidden. She’d put Izzie’s full name on the invitations.

Lady Perdita Spencer-Harris had been unable to comprehend why her daughter didn’t want to use the family name to help sales. She simply didn’t understand that Izzie wanted people to come to hear the choir for its own sake, or because they wanted to see what she’d done in her art centre; not because she was a young and single female member of the landed gentry.

Miss Isadora Spencer-Harris

cordially invites you to a magical festive evening at

The Cotswold Arts Centre, Chipping Swinton

to hear the renowned Cotswold Choir’s Christmas Carol Concert

Saturday 21st December

7 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. start

£25 per ticket

Refreshments provided

RSVP by 18th December to Harris Park

Wrapping her stripy woollen scarf more tightly around her neck, Izzie breathed warm air over her cold fingers. Deciding it wasn’t cost effective to heat the church this late at night just for her, she gathered up the invitations, and with one last check that the…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, then Christmas in the Cotswolds is available from all good e-retailers as well as in the Jenny Kane Christmas Collection on Amazon.

mybook.to/ChristmasinCotswolds

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

Many thanks for popping by today,

See you next time for 500 words from Christmas at the Castle.

Happy reading, 

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Another Cup of Christmas

For the next three weeks, I’ll be featuring my ‘Another Cup of….’ festive novellas on the ‘Opening Lines’ blog spot.

Today, I’m starting with the first 500 words from Another Cup of Christmas.

Blurb

Five years ago the staff of Pickwicks Cafe in Richmond were thrown into turmoil when their cook and part-owner, Scott, had a terrible accident. With help from his friends, his wife Peggy, and the staff at the local hospital, he made an amazing recovery. Now Pickwicks is preparing to host a special Christmas fundraiser for the hospital department that looked after Scott.

Pickwicks’ waitress Megan has been liaising with the ward’s administrator, Nick, as all the staff who helped Scott’s recovery are invited. As the problems of organising the fundraiser take up more and more of their busy lives, Megan and Nick contact each other more frequently, and their emails and phone calls start to develop from the practical into the flirty.

But can you actually fall for someone you’ve never met?

As the fundraiser draws closer, Megan is beginning to think that she had imagined all the virtual flirting between herself and Nick – he promised to arrange to meet her for real, but he hasn’t done so. Now he’s bringing someone with him to the fundraiser, and they’re just bound to be everything Megan feels she isn’t …

Join the characters of Jenny Kane’s wonderful debut Another Cup of Coffee once again for a heart-warming festive read!

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘A lovely heart-warming tale set at Christmas and a perfect short read for in front of a blazing fire and a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate!)’

‘A great read in the run up to Christmas, highly recommended

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

December 4th 2012

Having politely escaped her third ‘So what are you doing for Christmas?’ conversation of the day, Megan Johnson was retreating back to the counter when she spotted Pickwicks’ most regular customer sit up from her work and brush a stray red hair from her eyes.

    Knowing it had been at least half an hour since Kit’s caffeine addiction had been attended to, the waitress swiped up the percolator jug and headed in her direction.

    Without bothering to ask if it was required, Megan poured the steaming liquid with practised care, before taking advantage of the lull in Christmas shopping trade, and sitting down opposite her friend. ‘Going OK?’

    Swivelling the laptop round to face Megan, Kit rubbed the back of her neck, ‘I’m sure I’ve missed something. What do you think?’

Pickwicks Festive Fundraiser!

Spoil Yourself With An Afternoon of Pickwicks’ Finest Festive Fare.

In Aid of the Royal Free Hospital’s Spinal Ward.

Saturday 22nd December from 2pm.

Deluxe Buffet And Fundraising Fun!

Tickets are ONLY £25 per person

Don’t miss out!

Book your place at Pickwicks Coffee Shop, Richmond – NOW!!

    Megan scanned the poster. ‘Oh, that’s fabulous! I thought you were writing your latest novel.’

    ‘To tell you the truth, that’s exactly what I should be doing, but Peggy asked me to do some publicity for the fundraiser and I thought I’d better get on with it. Time seems to be dissolving. It’ll be the 22nd before we know it.’

    ‘I know what you mean.’ Megan started to collect the dishes left by a couple who’d just vacated a nearby table.  ‘The next three weeks are going to fly by.’

    ‘Two and a half weeks!’

    ‘Oh, hell! Really?’

    ‘That’s why I want to get these done; otherwise everyone will be too booked up with their own celebrations to have time to come.’ Gesturing towards the kitchen, Kit asked, ‘How’s Scott doing out there, or shouldn’t I ask?’

    Megan’s permanent smile widened further across her lightly freckled face. ‘He’s amazing. I have no idea how he does it. The temperature in that kitchen is tropical, and yet Scott’s still beaming that massive toothy grin of his. I’m seriously beginning to think he is physically unable to stop cooking! Surely he must have pre-prepared as much as he can for the fundraiser by now?’

     Kit nodded. ‘He probably has, but Peggy is getting paranoid there won’t be enough food.’ Glancing around, checking that Megan wasn’t needed by a customer for a moment, Kit pointed to a fresh pile of abandoned cups. ‘If I clear those, will you have a proper read of the poster? I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious but I can’t put my finger on it?’

    Kit was already standing up and taking a tray from Megan’s hands before the waitress said, ‘On one condition.’

    ‘Which is?’

    ‘I can check my emails? I’m supposed to be liaising with the hospital about this for Peggy, but we’ve been so busy over the last few days I…’

If you’d like to read on, Another Cup of Christmas, is available from all good e-book retailers, and as part of the Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.

mybook.to/AnotherCupofChristmas

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

(You don’t need to have read Another Cup of Coffee to enjoy my festive stories.)

You can her me read a little from Another Cup of Christmas here- https://www.facebook.com/coffeetimesessions/videos/381433993174274

Come back next week, for the first 500 words from Christmas in the Cotswolds.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Tiny Taster: Winter Fires at Mill Grange

Continuing my series of #tinytasters. This week we’re taking a peep at the final novel in my #MillGrange #series.

Winter Fires at Mill Grange.

Winter Fires at Mill Grange

Blurb

Mill Grange is putting on a show this holiday season!

When young Dylan Harris’s former babysitter, Harriet, needs a last minute venue for her acting troupe’s outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, the staff at Mill Grange throw its doors open…but they may get more drama than they’d bargained for!

With a play to arrange, an unexpected arrival adds to the drama. It soon looks as if a miracle will be needed to make sure this Christmas is one that Thea, Tina, Sam, Shaun, Helen and Tom – along with retirees Bert and Mabel Hastings,– won’t forget…

Continuing the seasonal pattern set by the first three novels in the series – Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange, Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange and Spring Blossoms at Mill GrangeWinter Fires takes the Victorian manor house regulars, Thea, Shaun, Tina, Shaun, Tom, Helen, Bert and Mabel, through December, and the run up to Christmas.

***

Here’s a tiny taster…

Thea threw her arms around Shaun as he climbed out of his car. ‘You don’t happen to know The Winter’s Tale, do you?’

Shaun’s eyebrows rose. ‘I’ll be honest, that was not the first thing I thought you’d say to me after two months apart.’

‘Would you rather I’d have led with the news that Mabel has made bacon sandwiches for lunch in honour of your return.’

‘Too right. Although a kiss from my gorgeous girlfriend wouldn’t go amiss first.’

‘Before a bacon sandwich! I’m honoured.’ Thea leant in for a kiss, only to have it curtailed by a question.

‘The song by David Essex or the play by Shakespeare?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Winter’s Tale.’

‘Oh yes. The play.’ Thea peered into the back of the car. ‘That isn’t all dirty washing, is it?’

Shaun chuckled. ‘You sounded just like a wife then.’

‘Oh.’ Thea’s cheeks coloured. ‘Sorry, I just meant…’

‘It’s alright, I know. I was joking.’ He pulled her closer. ‘The weather was dreadful. I adore the North East coastline, but I don’t think we had a single dry dig day for the entirety of the filming. At least it’ll show Landscape Treasures’ viewers that archaeology isn’t just a fair-weather occupation.’

‘Did you find it?’

‘The Saxon farmstead?’ Shaun grimaced. ‘Ish. There’s never much to find on Saxon sites. A few traces of hut postholes. Usual stuff.’ He opened the car’s back doors. ‘Why were you asking about a Shakespearean play?’

Thea heaved two overflowing carrier bags of grubby clothes out of the car. ‘Dylan’s stepsister, Harriet, has a role in it. Hermione.’

‘Good for her.’ Shaun hooked his rucksack onto his shoulder before grabbing a third bag of muddy clothes from the boot. ‘It’s a great play. I played Polixenes in an amateur production when I was at university.’

‘No way!’ Thea was amazed. ‘I had no idea you’d trodden the boards.’

‘It was a one-time event. I don’t have what it takes to be in the limelight like that.’

‘What are you talking about? You’re a celebrity archaeologist! A television presenter! You’re always in the public eye.’

Pushing the back door to the manor open with his foot, Shaun laughed. ‘Believe me, it’s very different. You know what it’s like on Landscape Treasures. I only have to remember a few lines at a time, and if I mess up we can reshoot them. On stage, if you mess up, then everyone knows and no one ever lets you forget.’

Thea deposited the bags of washing in the hallway. ‘That sounded like the voice of experience.’

‘There was a tricky speech I had to do midway through the play. I left out one line. It wasn’t major in the grand scheme of things. Didn’t mess up the plot or anything, but the chap playing Leontes, David bloody Clark, would not let it go.’

Thea’s eyebrows rose further. ‘Not still bitter a million years down the line or anything?’

Shaun grinned. ‘It put me off acting for life.’ …

If you would like to read Winter Fires at Mill Grange, here are the buy links –

Amazon – http://mybook.to/MillGrangeFour 

Waterstones – Winter Fires at Mill Grange by Jenny Kane | Waterstones

Nook – Winter Fires at Mill Grange: The perfect cosy heartwarming read this Christmas by Jenny Kane | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Kobo- Winter Fires at Mill Grange eBook by Jenny Kane – 9781801101974 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom 

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Tim Walker: London Tales

I’m delighted to welcome Tim Walker to my blog, to share a little about his #newrelease, London Tales, which was published on the 8th November.

Look out for the extract and buy links below!

Over to you Tim…

This collection of eleven tales offers dramatic pinpricks in the rich tapestry of London’s timeline, a city with two thousand years of history. They are glimpses of imagined lives at key moments, starting with a prologue in verse from the point of view of a native Briton tribeswoman absorbing the shock of Roman invasion. The first story is a tense historical adventure set in Roman Londinium in 60 CE from the perspective of terrified legionaries and townsfolk facing the vengeful Iceni queen, Boudica, whose army burnt the fledgling city to the ground.

Further historical dramas take place in 1381 during the Peasant’s Revolt, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the last ice fair on the frozen Thames in 1814. These are followed by a romance set during the Blitz in 1941, then the swinging Sixties and wide-flared seventies are remembered in the life story of fictional policeman, Brian Smith. Moving on, an East End family get a fright from copycat killings that are a throwback to the 1888 Jack the Ripper murders.

There’s a series of contemporary stories that reference recent events, including the London terrorist bombings of 2005, a literary pub crawl and a daring prison break, building to the imagined death throes of London in a chilling, dystopian vision. These stories are loosely inspired by the author’s personal experiences and reflections on his time living and working in London in the 1980’s and 90’s. Adaptability, resilience, conformity and resolve are recurring themes.

London Tales evokes the city’s rich history and the qualities that were needed by Londoners at various times to survive and prosper – from the base and brutal, devious and inspired, to the refined and civilized.

Extract

Cherry Blossoms Fall

The all clear sounded like Mother’s loving call to sweet, milky tea with bread and jam. I followed the eyebrow pencil lines drawn on the calves of a matronly figure up the circular stairwell of High Street Kensington Underground Station towards welcoming shafts of sunlight. It was Spring, 1941, and my celebratory mood at my recent appointment as a junior doctor at the Charing Cross Hospital Mortuary had been tempered by the anxiety of life in London during The Blitz. German bombing raids had certainly upped the number of fatalities in the terror-stricken city, leading to my opportunistic appointment after graduating from medical school. ‘We must do what we can to help the War effort, Doctor Robinson’, I’d been told at my job interview, but for now, I was meeting a friend and fellow graduate for lunch.

A foot-wide stream ran along the gutter, spurting water from the bent thumb of a bomb-damaged hydrant that caused delight in children but groans from their fussing parents. Daylight bombing raids were unusual, as Fritz preferred to come over under the cover of darkness. The Blitz had now dragged on for nine, nerve-shredding months of punishment and random deaths; London had become a patchwork quilt of rubble mountains in vacant plots.

“Oh, a wall has collapsed onto the lovely garden!” the matronly figure exclaimed.

I followed the direction of her mortified gaze to a square patch of grass bordered by an array of different trees; its lawn and flower beds now discoloured by a layer of dust that had crept outwards from a bomb-damaged apartment block. The entire front wall of the building had fallen in an untidy heap of shattered red bricks across an access road and spilled onto the communal garden where a forlorn tree trunk denuded of branches poked out of the mess of masonry and household items. The rooms in the once-private four-storey residence were now exposed for all to see, like an abandoned dolls house. Privacy was just one lost innocence to the brutality of war…

***

In this story, all characters are fictitious except Professor Keith Simpson, a pathologist during the War who gave evidence in a number of criminal cases and developed a ground-breaking method for identifying corpses using a facial recognition technique based on overlaying photographic negatives. He published a text book, Forensic Medicine, 1947, that became the starting point for the new science of criminal pathology.

After the German air force, the Luftwaffe, had failed to destroy the Royal Air Force in mid-1940 in advance of a planned invasion, they resorted to bombing the city of London, and other industrial cities, in a campaign of terror aimed at destroying not only infrastructure but citizen morale. From 7 October 1940 to 6 June 1941 almost 28,000 high explosive bombs and over 400 parachute mines were recorded landing on Greater London, killing over 43,500 civilians. Daylight bombing was abandoned after October 1940 as the Luftwaffe experienced unsustainable losses.

There was also a tactical switch by Hitler of military resources from Western Europe to the Eastern front at this time. The air raid by over 500 aircraft against central London on 10–11 May 1941 was a catastrophic event that led to the highest nightly casualty figure. On this one night, over 700 tons of high explosives and more than 80 tons of incendiaries were dropped. More than 2,000 fires were started that night affecting 61 London boroughs. Around 700 acres of the city were damaged by fire and more than 1,300 people were killed, over 1,600 seriously wounded and 12,000 made homeless.

The Blitz led to the largest internal migration of people in Britain’s history, including the mass evacuation of over 1.5 million children, from cities and ports to rural locations. On a personal note, both of my parents experienced the Blitz. My mother, Agnes, was a schoolgirl in Liverpool during the Blitz when Liverpool’s docks were heavily bombed. The family lived near the south docks in Garston. She was evacuated, with her sister Margaret, to a farm in Maghull in South Lancashire, where she had to help out with farm chores, knit scarves and jumpers beside the wireless in the evenings and do child minding. This lasted only a few months, as the girls seized the opportunity to return home at Christmas of 1940 for a break, but did not return to the Robinson farm, seeing out the war with their family in heavily bombed Garston. All the Neil family survive the war, despite a number of houses in their street being destroyed. Around 4,000 people were killed in the Liverpool Blitz. My father, Thomas Henry Walker, was a teenager living on the outskirts of Belfast in Northern Ireland during the war. Belfast docks were subjected to four bombing raids and resultant fires storms during the war by the Luftwaffe, killing over 1,000 and wounding around 1,500, destroying over 1,300 houses and damaging many more.

Well over 60,000 British civilians were killed across the country and many more injured in German bombing raids during the war. Many more German civilians were killed in retaliatory allied bombings before the war in Europe ended in 1945. The madness of World War Two resulted in the deaths of over sixty million people by the time it finally ended with the surrender of Japan in 1946.

Buy Links

London Tales is available from Amazon in e-book, paperback, Kindle Unlimited and audiobook formats.

Amazon universal link: http://mybook.to/LondonTales

London Tales is a companion volume to Thames Valley Tales.

Bio

Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. Although born in Hong Kong in the sixties, he grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After attaining a degree in Communication Studies he moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business. He returned to the UK in 2009.

His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2014, inspired by a visit to the part-excavated site of former Roman town Calleva Atrebatum at Silchester in Hampshire. The series connects the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend and is inspired by historical source material, presenting an imagined historical fiction of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.

The last book in the series, Arthur, Rex Brittonum, was published in June 2020. This is a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur and follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum. Both titles are Coffee Pot Book Club recommended reads. The series starts with Abandoned (second edition, 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker.

Tim has also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (second edition 2023), London Tales (2023); a book of verse, Perverse (2020); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and three children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017), Charly & the Superheroes (2018) and Charly in Space (2020).

Tim took early retirement on medical grounds and now divides his time between writing and helping out at a Berkshire-based charity, Men’s Matters.

Find out more about the author at his website: www.timwalker1666.wixsite.com/website

Goodreads Author Page: https://goodreads.com/author/show/678710.Tim_Walker

Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/TimWalkerWrites

Facebook Pages:    https://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites

https://facebook.com/LondonPostcards

Twitter:                    https://twitter.com/timwalker1666

Instagram:               https://instagram.com/timwalker1666

Many thanks for joining us today Tim,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Nan’s Apple Cake

Last week, after a great deal of hunting, my mum and I found my nan’s recipe for apple cake.

I wanted to make it, not just because – after years of not being able to eat apples, I can now eat them if they are cooked first – but because cooking this particular cake reminds me of childhood baking sessions with Nan in her small kitchen in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire.

Having posted some photographs of the finished cake on social media last weekend, I promised to share the recipe here.

The original recipe idea came from Good Housekeeping – but was then adapted by Nan into a cake that was very much her own. Thinking back, I don’t think she ever stuck to a cooking book recipe in her life. In fact, I don’t actually remember her weighing anything out. Nan always seemed to know how much things weighted by sight!

I’m not so adventurous – so all weights of ingredients are mentioned below.

Ingredients

2 medium/large eggs

9 oz caster sugar or light brown sugar

4 oz butter

1/4 pint milk

6 1/2 oz plain flour (six and a half ounces)

3 teaspoons baking powder

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (to personal taste)

2-3 cooking apples (Bramley)

2- 3 oz sultanas (optional)

Cook at 200.C  of Gas mark 6 for 25 mins.

Use a 20×30 cm roasting tin/brownie tin. (Greased. Line base with baking paper)

Method

Whisk the eggs and 8oz of the sugar. Stop whisking once the mixture is creamy and the whisk leaves a trail when lifted from the liquid. Leave to one side.

Weigh out the flour. Add the baking powder and half the cinnamon.  Sieve the powdered mixture into a bowl. Leave to one side.

Put the butter and milk into a saucepan. Bring it to the boil. Take it off the heat. Immediately stir in the egg and sugar mixture.  Add in the powder mix – folding it slowly into the liquid making a batter. Fold carefully until there are no lumps.

Fold in the sultanas if using them.

Pour the mixture into the tin.

Peel and core the apples. Slice them into thin slices. Arrange these slices across the top of the batter, until the top is covered. You can double layer the apple.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the apples. (Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon over the top if required.)

Bake in the oven.

***

The cake will be cooked when it is well risen and golden. A skewer/slim knife should come out clean when inserted into cake, to see if it’s baked right through.

Let the cake cool within the tin before removing it.

Cut into squares.

Enjoy as it is or with cream/ice cream/custard.

***

Happy cooking, eating.

Jenny x

 

Tiny Taster: Outlaw Justice

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331.

All appears to be calm, but it is soon clear that a storm is coming – in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim – Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. The harshest lesson of all, being that, it is often those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most.

Here’s a tiny taster from Outlaw Justice…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Opening Lines with Karen King: The Retreat

This week I’m welcoming the brilliant, Karen King, to my blog with the #openinglines of her brand new thriller, The Retreat.

Over to you Karen…

What gave me the idea for The Retreat

The extremes people will go to for revenge amazes me, the newspapers are full of stories of the dark and devious acts people have done as revenge for being spurned or for imagined or real grievances so I thought this would make a good premise for a novel.

As for the setting, I’ve set a few romance novels in Spain, where I now live, and thought it would be interesting to set a psychological thriller there too. After all, a sprawling white villa, surrounded by orange, lemon and olive trees, with a sparkling blue pool halfway up the mountains would be the last place anyone would expect danger, wouldn’t it? The peaceful setting would be a great contrast to the darkness of the events that take place there. I chose a wellness retreat, the whole ethos of wellness, mindfulness and relaxation luring the reader into thinking it was safe – but someone has come to the retreat for revenge! I hope the reader has fun guessing which of the guests it is.

BLURB

I watch my best friend and the way she lays a hand on my partner’s arm, throwing me a knowing glance. I haven’t seen her for so long. She knows my darkest secret. Is she about to blow up the perfect life I’ve created?

My partner José and I have poured everything into opening this rustic farmhouse retreat nestled high in the Spanish mountains. Finally we’re ready to welcome our first guests.

But a cold chill comes over me when I recognise Saskia. She’s part of my old life, the one I made sure to leave behind, and that José knows nothing about. Saskia knows everything about me – even the terrible secret I’ve carried for so long. She’s exposed me once before. Is she here to do it again?

She swears all she wants is for us to be friends again and she’s being so sweet, helping out whenever she can. Maybe she really is trying to make amends. But when I see that our beautiful water fountain is stained a deep red I’m certain it was her. She’s here for revenge.

Then I find the body floating in the pool. My stomach drops as I realise it can’t have been Saskia – because she was with me.

I’m in a nightmare. Someone is determined to destroy everything I love. But who are they, and how far are they willing to go? And will I be able to stop them before it’s too late?

A totally unputdownable psychological thriller packed with jaw-dropping twists. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Mark Edwards and K.L. Slater.

FIRST 500 WORDS …

Prologue

I’m here. At last.

The warm air hits me as I step out of the minibus and I’m immediately struck by the beauty of the sprawling white villa nestled in the Spanish mountains. It looks so peaceful, blue skies, luscious green leaved palm trees, the song of cicadas filling the air. I can’t see if from here, but I know that there is a sparkling blue pool at the back of the house surrounded by beautiful fruit trees. I’ve pored over every inch of the photos you proudly display on your Facebook page.

I gaze around at the other guests. There are six of us, all come for five days of total relaxation. And there you are, your arms wrapped around each other, looking so happy. This is your dream come true and you didn’t care who you trampled on to achieve it.

Your eyes fall on me and there is no guilt in them as you smile briefly then move on to greet the next guest. The bubbly pot of anger simmering inside me burns brighter and stronger. I’ve thought about what you did for so long – years – imagining my revenge. You took everything from me. You cruelly destroyed my life then built yourself a perfect one.  Look at you, you don’t have a care in the world.

Well, you soon will. I’m going to make you pay for what you did.

Chapter One

Now

Her eyes scanned the room, looking for something to use to protect herself, pausing as she spotted the poker by the log fire. That would have to do. A few minutes later, holding the rod of cold metal in her hands, she opened the back door and stepped outside. The night air was cool and the velvety blackness surrounded her like a cloak. It was still. Quiet. Too quiet. She paused for a moment, peering into the darkness, ears strained for any sound, the poker clenched tightly by her side. She would use it if she had to, she wasn’t going down without a fight. She gazed up at the handful of stars and the sliver of moon hanging like a hammock over the pool. She could do with a full moon to light up the sky tonight, she could barely see in front of her. Taking her phone out of her pocket, she switched on the torch then slowly walked down the steps guided by the small beam of light.

She was halfway down the steps when she heard a loud splash. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as a chill ran through her. What was that? She couldn’t see the pool clearly enough from here, not in the dark, her phone torch wasn’t strong enough to light more than a few metres in front of her. She paused, heart thudding, as she listened for the splashes indicating that someone was swimming across the pool. There were none. It was deadly quiet.

Too quiet…

***

You can buy The Retreat from all good retailers, including:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B0CD2J9K41author

BIO

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. Currently published by Bookouture and Headline, Karen writes about the light and dark of relationships. Her fifth psychological thriller, The Retreat, was published on 13th October, and her eleventh romantic novel, The Spanish Wedding Disaster, was published in June 2022.
Karen has also had 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines published. Her thrillers The Mother In Law, The Perfect Stepmother and The Stranger in my Bed and her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became International Amazon bestsellers.
Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

Contact Links
LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/KarenKing

Many thanks for joining me today, Karen.

Happy reading, everyone.

Jenny x

 

 

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