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

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Opening Lines: Her Scandalous Suitor by Rachel Brimble

I’m welcoming my friend and fellow author, Rachel Brimble, back to my website today with the #openinglines from her brand new novel.

Thanks for hosting me today, Jenny!

I am thrilled to be here to share the Opening Lines of my latest historical romance, HER SCANDALOUS SUITOR (previously The Seduction of Emily). The novel is set in the beautiful city of Bath and follows Emily Darson and confidence trickster Will Samson as they are unexpectedly thrown together only to embark on an adventure filled with drama, intrigue & romance. Let the fun & games begin…

BLURB

Emily Darson assumed her future of propriety and privilege amid a loveless marriage was set in stone. At least, she did until confidence trickster Will Samson came into her life…

Then everything changed.

With each revelation about her fiancé and herself that Will uncovers, he also reveals a little more of who he is, what he has suffered, and the volatile vengeance that burns in his heart.

Can Emily really risk security for scandal? Loyalty for love? Only time will tell…

FIRST 500 WORDS

Will Samson stood at the back of the auction house, watching and waiting. Over two hundred people stood around him. Rather than part with their hard-earned cash, he suspected they were there hoping to catch a glimpse of one man in particular. The same man he waited for.

Mr. Nicholas Milne. One of Bath’s most eligible bachelors. Milne was a celebrity. A man written about and either admired…or feared. Will curled his hands into fists.

He was a rapist. A woman-beater. A dead man walking.

Today, Will was coming for Milne, ready or not. He lifted his hat and pushed the hair back from his face. The tension in his neck and shoulders grew worse as each second passed, and the ache in his temples throbbed mercilessly.

He turned his gaze once again to the open double doors at the back of the room. “Come on, you bastard. Where are you?”

The furor surrounding the sale of the day’s most prestigious lot, a diamond, ruby, and pearl necklace known as the Heart of Kingston, had escalated to fever pitch over the last few weeks. The auction house had taken full advantage of the waiting crowd by dragging out the suspense. What better way to heighten the nerves and hunger of bidders than to have them think the real prize—Milne—might not materialize after all?

Replacing his hat, Will slid out of sight behind a marble pillar. Discretion was key. Although confident the people of Bath were unaware of his real occupation, he daren’t run the risk of his carefully prepared disguise as a middle-class gentleman being exposed. When was a confidence trickster ever welcome at a high-class auction?

He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall, planting the sole of his boot against the white alabaster. His mother’s beautiful face appeared behind his closed lids. She’d asked him countless times not to avenge the beating Milne had inflicted on her two years before, but the fire inside Will would not be extinguished until Milne was nothing but ashes.

Resentment and hatred swirled in his gut. The same emotions had long ago burned and scarred any love he was once capable of feeling for another. So many months of tracking Milne down, so many weeks of wanting to get his hands around his neck had left Will a shadow of his former self. Maybe once Milne was dead or behind bars, Will could start living again. He opened his eyes. But, in the meantime, he would make the man’s life a living hell until he decided how to ruin him completely. The only promise Will would keep to his mother was he wouldn’t hang by the neck for his endeavors. When the fever took her into God’s arms, Will’s heart and soul filled with the heinous intention to wreak vengeance on Milne. God only knew how many more women Milne had hurt in the months it took Will to track him from Bristol to Bath…

***

You can buy Her Scandalous Suitor from all good retailers, including: https://geni.us/yA4XqFR

BIO:

Rachel lives with her husband, two adult daughters and beloved Labrador in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 30 novels and has been published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, Kensington Books and others. Her latest series includes the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and the Shop Girl series, both published with Aria Fiction. She also has several single titles with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut novel with Harpeth Road Press, Dressing The Countess, will be released in May 2024.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Female Entrepreneur Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. She is also studying for a history degree with the Open University in her spare time…

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Website: https://bit.ly/3wH7HQs

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Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

OUT NOW: Not That Kind of Witch by Lucy Felthouse

OUT NOW—Not That Kind of Witch, A Brand-new M/F Steamy Contemporary Romance by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #contemporaryromance #romance #steamyromance

The latest release from Lucy Felthouse, Not That Kind of Witch is a M/F steamy contemporary romance filled with fun and steam, which also tackles some serious topics. So if you’re looking for a hefty dollop of realism in your romance, then check this one out!

Blurb:

Can Willow let go of her fears and begin living her life again, or will her issues get the better of her?

Willow Green is having a hard time of it. Losing her job at the beginning of the pandemic and her elderly grandmother’s ‘clinically vulnerable’ status have resulted in her becoming housebound. While her entrepreneurial, hard-working spirit and the knowledge passed down through generations of green witches in her family mean she has solved her employment problem, her fear of going out, of allowing the dreaded virus into the house she shares with her grandmother, is far from resolved. In fact, it seems worse than ever.

That is, until Joe Lane comes along. The handsome care worker turned delivery driver does Willow a favour, gaining her attention and reluctant admiration. He’s got plenty of baggage of his own, but he also has the skills and temperament to help her with her problem—and he really seems to care.

The question is, will she let him get close enough to try?

Available in eBook and paperback formats: https://books2read.com/ntkow

Excerpt:

Willow Green had just stepped into the kitchen from the back garden when there came an almighty hammering on the front door. Panic and irritation flared in equal measure and she dumped her loaded wicker basket on the huge farmhouse-style table before hurrying through the house towards the source of the noise.

Another hammering. The irritation started to outweigh the panic. Whoever was there was in danger of waking the dead, never mind disturbing mostly-deaf Grandma Annie, whom Willow had left happily knitting in the conservatory with a cup of tea on the table at her side before she’d headed out to the garden.

Willow cast her gaze to the ceiling and grunted with frustration. The whole point of installing the smart doorbell and having it set to only sound an alert on her phone had been to prevent Grandma being tempted to get out of her chair and make her way to the door, putting her at risk of a trip or fall along the way, or placing her in a vulnerable position with a complete stranger. The added bonus being, Willow could be at the furthest reaches of the garden, and her phone would cleverly let her know someone was at the front door.

Had this person not seen the sign? Smack dab in the middle of the door: Please use doorbell. With an arrow pointing to it. Couldn’t they read?

Then she remembered. The last time this happened, which had been a while ago, prior to getting the doorbell camera in the first place, it had been kids at the door. Kids who, once she’d opened up, backed off down the path and began flinging jibes and questions at her from what they considered a safe distance.

Hey, witch.

Been out flying on your broomstick?

What’s bubbling in your cauldron?

You gonna turn us into toads?

Did your ancestors get burned at the stake?

Where’s your black cat?

Her heart sank. She sighed and prepared herself for more of the same. It was unlikely, after all, they’d have come up with something new or more original—despite the astonishing wealth of information the human race had at its fingertips these days. Perhaps they hadn’t bothered to look, to educate themselves, or simply thought it was fun to torment a forty-year-old woman who’d never harm anything or anyone—not even if it was possible to turn people into toads. Though, admittedly, if she were a lesser woman, she’d be sorely tempted to throw out a few fake incantations to scare them, make them think she’d cursed them.

Maybe she should. Yes, it was stooping to their level, but if it stopped them coming back…

No. I’m not going there. She briefly considered not answering the door at all. She could access the doorbell speaker and tell them to clear off from the safety and comfort of her hallway, but she didn’t want them to think she was weak, or frightened. That’d just enhance the thrill for them, encourage them to harass her more often. Not happening. Not on my watch. I don’t have time for that kind of idiocy.

She shook her head, unlocked the door and yanked it open, her annoyance already spilling forth. Generally speaking, she was an incredibly placid person, and slow to anger. But she didn’t want these kids to think this house was an easy target. She’d kept the previous incident from Grandma, not wanting to worry her, and had hoped the addition of the doorbell camera might deter them from returning. “Have you horrible toerags seriously got nothing better to do? You should be ashamed of yourselves, pestering people like this! I’ve a mind to contact your parents—”

She stopped dead as the door swung wide enough to provide a view of who was on the other side of it. Not kids—horrible or otherwise—but a man. With a large cardboard box at his feet, bearing a familiar logo. Uh-oh.

A glance past him to the gravel lane leading to her house confirmed her fears. A white Transit van sat there.

She cringed and forced her gaze back to the man. A navy-blue T-shirt bearing the delivery company’s logo was stretched over his muscular biceps and chunky abdomen—a dad bod, she supposed it’d be classed as, though she didn’t really agree with the terminology—as well as a pair of tan shorts and some beat-up looking trainers. He was tall, well over six feet, and she had to crane her neck to meet his eyes. “I’m so sorry. The last time someone hammered on my door like that, it was a bunch of kids shouting abuse. I thought you were them. If you’d just rung the doorbell, like the sign…”

The frown that appeared on the man’s face as she spoke made her shift her attention to her right, a sinking feeling taking over. Where there should have been a sign attached to the centre of the door, were now only six evenly-spaced blobs of Blu-Tak.

Heat flared into her cheeks, and she let out a groan and closed her eyes momentarily. “Well, there was a sign. It’s obviously fallen off. I had no idea. Or I wouldn’t have… never mind. I’m really sorry. And now I’m waffling.” She gave a pained smile, her face threatening to burst into flames. “Anyway. You have a parcel for me?” Her voice went so high at the end she was surprised she hadn’t summoned the neighbourhood dogs.

To his credit, the man simply shrugged. “No worries. I’ve been called worse. You’re…” he consulted the screen of the smartphone in his hand, “Willow Green?”

Given the circumstances, she let the slight waver of amusement in his voice at her name slide. “Yes,” she replied resignedly. “That’s me.”

“Great. It’s a tracked parcel, so I need to take a photo to prove I’ve delivered it…”

“Okay. Go ahead.”

He tapped his phone screen a few times, then lifted the device and stepped back, presumably ensuring he got the right angle so his image would contain both the parcel and her feet inside the open doorway. Pressed the button. “Got it. Thanks. Do you want me to bring it in for you? It’s pretty heavy.” He pocketed the phone.

“No,” she said quickly, recoiling as he approached and made to pick up the box. “I mean, no thank you. I’m fine. I need to find the sign before I go indoors, anyway. Don’t want to shout at any more undeserving delivery drivers, do I?” The chuckle she let out sounded forced, even to her own ears.

“Guess not.” He backed off and clasped his chin, then stroked his thick beard, more grey than black—the colour of his thick, plentiful hair, which had only a dusting of grey at the temples. He glanced at the doorbell and wrinkled his nose. “Should’ve spotted that, really. Especially when no one answered after I knocked a few times. The Blu-Tak should have provided a clue that maybe there was a sign there, and I could have put two and two together. I’m sorry. Such an idiot. Won’t make that mistake again though, will I?” Despite the weakness of his smile, it transformed his face enough that Willow’s stomach flipped. Goodness, he’s handsome.

Available in eBook and paperback formats: https://books2read.com/ntkow

Add to BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/not-that-kind-of-witch-a-contemporary-steamy-romance-novel-by-lucy-felthouse

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/203844879-not-that-kind-of-witch

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight, Curve Appeal, and The Heiress’s Harem and The Dreadnoughts series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 175 publications to her name. Find out more about her and her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/linktree

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

Jenny Kane’s Cheese Scones: A Taste of Mill Grange

As regular readers to this blog will know, my  #MillGrange novels, feature a serious amount of scone consumption.

I’ve recently been asked to re-share my own cheese scone recipe – Sybil approved, of course!

If you’d like to bake some Sybil style cheese scones, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 225g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 55g chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 100g mature cheddar –  grated (reserve some for sprinkling on top prior to baking)
  • 100-110ml milk – plus 1 tbsp for glazing

And here’s what you do:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas mark 6
  2. Place the flour, salt, cayenne pepper and baking powder into a bowl, and stir together. (You can sift it if you like- but I can never be bothered!)
  3. Add the butter to the bowl and rub with your fingertips to make breadcrumbs.
  4. Sprinkle almost all the cheese into the breadcrumb mixture and stir in.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the milk, a little at a time, until you have a firm dough. (Do not be afraid to add a fraction more milk if required)
  6. Lightly flour a surface and push/fold the dough a few times, until it is approximately 2cm thick. Cut out the scones with a medium (about 8cm) cutter.
  7. Lightly flour a baking sheet, and place the scones on top. Glaze scones with a little milk and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-ish mins or until cooked through.
  9. Eat with way too much butter  and enjoy without guilt.

I hope Sybil’s scones put a smile on your face!

If you’d like to read Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange, Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange,  Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange or Winter Fires at Mill Grange, to see what else the workers at Mill Grange like to eat, you can find all the buy links here.

Have a lovely weekend.

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines: The Poster by James Marshall

After a bit of a break, I’m pleased to be bringing back my #openinglines blog feature.

It’s always a pleasure to share the work of fellow authors, but this time it is particularly good to be able to share with you the first 500 words of a novel written by one of my former students. 

I knew James had what it took to become a fabulous writer the moment I read the first short story he created for me a mini-fiction class a few years ago.

Over to you James… 

Blurb

Seemingly abandoned by their parents, siblings Lena and Alek are caught up at different ends of a war – while Lena designs propaganda posters in Plymouth, Alek is forced into the army. Both dream of escape, of another life … but as the war continues and they find each other, they start to question who they can really trust.

When survival is everything, is everyone an enemy?

“It’s brilliant. I was completely engrossed. This isn’t the type of novel I would typically read but I was riveted.” Leslie Wells.

Introduction

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill.

In order to set the background of the story, I read a lot of books about East Germany. I wanted to tell a story about what could happen to young people if they didn’t pay attention to the world around them.  What would a group of young women do to get food on the table and shoes on her feet?

As fast as I could write the dystopian aspect of this novel, real events were catching up with the fiction. I wrote about conscripts being used in a political war in the second piece I ever sent to Jenny.

In the week of publication of The Poster, the head of the British armed forces stated that conscription would have to be introduced in a war with Russia.  I am hoping no further similarities occur.

Opening 500 words of The Poster

Alek Wasilewski hurdled the yellow gorse bush and sprinted towards the cover of a low stone wall. The enemy was dug in on the edge of a copse seventy-five metres ahead. Alek pushed his heavy helmet back up over his sweaty forehead, his chest heaving as he tried to regain his breath. His section commander, Swales, was signalling to the rest of the boys to catch up.

‘Get a fucking move on,’ Swales said.

Alek wiped his palms on his combat trousers. His neck ached from the rifle sling and helmet strap, his calves were burning from his too-tight combat boots, and he needed to pee.

Swales made several hand signals to accompany his instructions to the section. ‘We’ll have to go around to the left following the stone wall.’ He pointed at Murdo and Trowbridge. ‘You two stay here and lay down covering fire. The rest of you, follow me.’

Alek gripped his empty rifle and bent as low as he could to follow Swales, keeping his head below the wall. His knees groaned after thirty metres and screamed after sixty. He sighed when Swales held up his fist to signal a stop.

‘Hold it here.’ Swales dropped to his stomach.

Alek copied Swales and wriggled forward, thankful that his legs could rest.

‘Check ammo; fix bayonets,’ Swales said. ‘Ski and I will take the left trench. Evans and Williams, the middle trench, and you two –’ Swales pointed at the last members of the section – take the right-hand trench.’

Alek pretended to check his ammo and fix his bayonet. They had neither ammo nor bayonets but had to go through the motions.

‘Ready?’ Swales said.

Alek nodded.

‘Go!’ Swales jumped over the wall.

Alek vaulted the wall and then ran forward. ‘Bang, Bang!’ he shouted, firing invisible rounds from the hip.

Swales dropped to one knee, yelling, ‘Bang, bang!

Alek ran past him and knelt, aiming at the two men in the left trench who were also shouting ‘bang’ as Swales ran a zig-zag pattern to the edge of the trench. Alek leapt up to sprint and jumped into the trench.

‘Bang, bang!’ He pointed his rifle at the enemy soldier still standing.

The soldier did a theatrical spin and dive, clutching his chest and wriggling his legs before letting out one last groan. He grinned at Alek.

‘Stop! End-Ex,’ Corporal Sanderson, their training instructor, shouted from above them. He waved his clipboard in the air and beckoned the support soldiers up to the position. ‘Well done, Swales,’ he said. ‘Good effort from your team.’ He pointed to Murdo and Trowbridge as they walked towards the copse. ‘I can see why you put those slackers in the fire support team.’

Swales turned and winked at Alek.

Alek slumped to the bottom of the cool trench and blinked as salty sweat ran into his eyes. He took a swig of the lukewarm water from his canteen, wishing it was ice-cold lemonade. He had forgotten its taste but could see…

  • You can follow his writing journey on Substack here
  • You can buy, The Poster,’ here

 

Bio

James is a 54-year-old father of two, husband of one. He lives and works in Devon,UK, running a sports club for local children and young adults in Willand.

He started fiction writing under the tutelage of Jenny Kane at her Imagine writing group in Cullompton.

He won the ‘Pen to Print’ 2022 short story competition, and ‘The Poster,’ has been shortlisted for their 2023 ‘Book Challenge Award.’

Apart from writing, James is a Masters weightlifter, a keen barbecuer, and an avid reader.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

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

 

 

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