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

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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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Tiny Taster: Edward’s Outlaw

It’s time for another ‘Tiny Taster’.

This week it’s the turn of the third novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles – Edward’s Outlaw.

In the first two novels of the series, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw, Mathilda of Twyford, found herself thrust into situations where she had to get to the bottom of a crime simply to stay alive. However, in book three, Edward’s Outlaw, Mathilda’s reputation for solving mysteries sees her being asked to solve a murder by the sheriff…and she is in no position to say no…

Blurb

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.

Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

***

Mathilda has only been married to Robert de Folville for three days, and already trouble has coming knocking at door of their home; Ashby Folville manor, Leicestershire. A warrant for the brother’s arrest sends Mathilda alone into Rockingham Castle for her own safety. Under the protection of its constable, Robert de Vere, she shelters within the castle while her husband and his brothers are on the run.

Mathilda doesn’t have time to worry about Robert for long, for within only a few days a young girl is dead and the sheriff thrusts the role of detective upon her…

Extract

Blood hammered in Mathilda’s ears. She had tracked down killers in the past, but never by appointment. The first time had been unintentional, a task she’d stumbled upon to save her father’s honour and her freedom. The second had come with an even higher price tag. The cost of failure would have been her life.

Now, these previous successes had earned her a third attempt, and Mathilda doubted she was up to the task. In Ashby Folville she had Sarah and Adam to back her up, not to mention Robert and his brothers. Here, she was alone but for Daniel, who’d already had a myriad of household duties heaped upon him.

Would her desire to find justice for Agnes, and her equally strong curiosity to uncover what was going on in the castle, be enough to solve the crime. Or crimes?

Whatever her misgivings, Mathilda’s starting point was clear. The sheriff and his associates had not yet left the castle. She wanted to talk to each of them privately. The constable had promised her the freedom of the castle while he’d had little choice but to agree, but would he continue to extend that offer once Wennesley and his comrades had gone to recommence the search for her husband.

Not sure if she was heartened or worried by Sheriff Ingram’s claim that she was unstoppable in her pursuit of felons, Mathilda wiped away the perspiration from her palms.

As she walked towards de Vere’s rooms, Mathilda forced herself to focus. Even if the arresting party remained with the constable, that didn’t mean they would be willing to answer her questions. After all, they hadn’t been there when Agnes had died, yet Mathilda couldn’t shift the uneasy feeling that it was all connected somehow. She had no logical reason for that suspicion beyond the coincidence of Isabella’s abrupt reappearance and the night-time movements of a tall, short-haired man who could have been either of the younger men on the warrant party… or someone else entirely….

***

Edwards’ Outlaw can be read as a standalone book, or as part of The Folville Chronicles.

If you’d like to read Edward’s Outlaw, – or any of The Folville Chronicles, they are available in eBook format and paperback from all good retailers, including…

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,

Jennifer xx

Tiny Taster: Another Glass of Champagne

This week I’m sharing a tiny taster of Another Glass of Champagne,  the last story in the  Another Cup of… series. While Another Cup of Coffee featured the figure of bad-boy Jack alongside the lead character, Amy, in Another Glass of Champagne  he takes the staring role.

The novel opens with, after an absence of a few years from his friend’s lives, Jack is heading back to London, with new opportunities, a new skill set, a determination to avoid romance at all costs, and fresh adventures well within his grasp- all of which could be celebrated with a glass of champagne.

The trouble is, knowing Jack, he might well mess it all up…

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?

Extract

Staring out of the train window, Jack exhaled a long, slow breath. Was this how Amy had felt when she had first come to Richmond after her years of self-imposed exile in Scotland? Sort of excited, but absolutely terrified at the same time? 

Jack wondered if, once he’d worked up the courage to go and see her, Amy would notice the parallels between their situations. A smile crossed his face. However she reacted, she would forgive him for not being in touch over the past few years. Amy always forgave him. For everything.

In his mind, he’d left Richmond for a good reason. Although he knew Amy accepted he’d needed to leave, he was less sure she understood why – which was why he’d decided to break off even phone and email contact with her. It was also why he hadn’t told any of his friends where he was; just to see if that helped.

It wasn’t that Jack wasn’t happy for Amy and Paul to be living the fairytale, but the fact that they were together, while he was still alone, was sometimes hard to take – especially when he knew Amy’s love could have been his if only he’d been prepared to risk it all those years ago. This nagging thought – one he accepted was utterly ridiculous, as he knew that he’d never have been able to ignore his sexuality, even for Amy – made him a rather less kind human being than he would have liked. He knew that until he could get past feeling he was missing out on something that all his friends took for granted, they were better off without him and the chip on his shoulder. Amy would understand, he was sure. Kit, on the other hand, might not be as understanding…

Jack’s smile disappeared. Years ago, back when they were dating, Kit would have forgiven him anything – but since Amy had come back into his life, and both women had become good friends in their own right, Kit had become much stronger. Jack had learnt that Kit had always hated how he could make her doubt her strength and resilience. These days she was so much more equipped to deal with him and his bullshit – and he knew it.

Perhaps he shouldn’t be coming back. After all, he knew he was as emotionally messed-up as ever – but he had to go somewhere, and anyway, whether he wanted to admit it or not, he’d been getting homesick.  Plus he’d had to get away from Kent…

Opening his eyes, Jack sighed as the train’s sudden slowing announced that they were arriving at St Pancras. Here he was again. Back in London, fleeing from yet another cock-up in his love life, and with nowhere to call home. He wished he hadn’t so rashly sold his place in Mortlake – he’d got far less than it was worth, too, in his haste to make a clean break.  

There were several Tube connections to Richmond Jack could have chosen to see his old friends straight away, but as he stood in the bustling station, he found himself unable to move a step further.  It wasn’t like him to be assailed by doubt, but this time it was different. Whatever he did, he always managed to upset people. He never meant to; usually he never even saw his offences coming.

On this occasion however, he knew that if he was going to go ahead with his latest plan and really make it work, he was going to cause trouble for some of his friends…

***

Another Glass of Champagne can be read as a standalone story as well as part of the series.

If you’d like to find out if Jack finally finds the person of his dreams, and how his latest escapade impacts on the lives of the Pickwicks crew, then you can buy Another Glass of Champagne from all good bookshops and from online retailers including-

Happy reading,

Jenny x

PS- Please note that the paperback and ebook covers are different, but the story is the same inside!

A Tiny Taster: Another Cup of Coffee

This week I thought I’d share a tiny taster from my very first #romcom, Another Cup of Coffee 

Another Cup of Coffee Blurb

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.

Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.

It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…

With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

***

Tiny taster

Taking refuge in the kitchen, Amy placed her palms firmly onto the cool, tiled work surface, and took a couple of deep yet shaky breaths. Forcing her brain to slip back into action, she retrieved a bottle of white wine from the fridge, poured a large glassful and, squaring her shoulders, carried it through to the living room.

Perching on the edge of her sofa, her throat dry, Amy stared suspiciously at the tape for a second, before daring to pick it up and click open its stiff plastic box. Two minutes later, her hands still shaking, she closed it again with a sharp bang, and drank some wine. It took a further five minutes to gather the courage to re-open the case and place the tape into the dusty cassette compartment of her ancient stereo system. It must have been years since she’d seen a cassette, she thought, let alone listened to one. She wasn’t even sure the stereo still worked …

Swallowing another great gulp of alcohol, Amy closed her eyes and pressed Play, not at all sure she wanted to take this trip back in time …

 

***

Another Cup of Coffee is available from all good book retailers, including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Coffee-ebook/dp/B07ZJLKXV7/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Another+Cup+of+Coffee+Jenny+KAne&qid=1575632954&sr=8-1

(Please note that the paperback and kindle editions of the novel have different covers – the picture above shows the kindle cover.)

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Seasoning

Regular readers of contemporary fictions/ romcoms/romances can’t have failed to notice that there are a great many  novels out there  with a reference to a season of the year in the title. My recent novels have formed part of this trend.

As #thepottingshed series is set in and around a garden centre, it made sense to make the novels seasonal, to fit in with the gardening year. Book one, Frost Falls at The Potting Shed, is based in winter, book two, Bluebell Season at The Potting Shed takes place in the spring. For book three, Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed, I’ve skipped summer – when most plants are happily growing away – and have taken Maddie and her team into autumn, when it’s time to tend the polytunnels and to ensure the ongoing success of the growing business.  

However, it isn’t just #thepottingshed novels that have a seasonal theme to them.

My previous #series of novels, #MillGrange, also has seasonally inspired titles. In this case however, the summer, autumn, spring and winter connections were less deliberate.

The first novel, Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange, was so called as the lead character, Thea Thomas, was dreaming of a new start to her life during the months of Midsummer – so far, so obvious.  It’s sequel, Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, was so titled because it was decided (by my publisher’s marketing team) that the reference to the season in book one had worked so well, they wanted to keep the time of year concept running. So the die was cast, and the following novels continued the seasonal theme – hence Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange and Winter Fires at Mill Grange.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure I wanted so many of my novels to have the linking theme of seasons. However, there is no arguing with the popularity of the stories which state, upfront, when in the year they are set.  We like books with a declared summer background in the summer months – and in the winter months, when we need mentally ‘warming up’, a great many of us reach of a summer or spring read. In the winter time we like a festive read – and oddly – in July there is often a wave of winter themed sales as folk use fiction to escape from the heat, and dream of winter jumpers and roaring fires.

Fiction gives us the chance to have the seasons we expect to have – cold in the winter, sun in the summer, new growth in the spring, life crunching in the autumn… At a time when out weather is all over the place and the fears of climate change are fast becoming a reality, we seek the reassurance of what we know – or want to know – within our fiction.

 

It is this thinking that led to the title of my next book including another seasonal flag.

Summer at Sea Glass Cove is a traditional romance/romcom tale. Obviously set in the summer, it will – hopefully – let you feel the sun on your skin, even if our sadly unpredictable new seasons means it’s actually raining hard despite it being June!

If you fancy a seasonal read, and you can’t wait until next year for the release of Summer at Sea Glass Cove, then all of my other spring, summer, autumn, and winter based novels, are available from all good bookshops and e-retailers.

Happy seasonal reading,

Jenny x

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