The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Contemporary Romantic Fiction

Opening Lines with Sue McDonagh: Meet me at the Art Cafe

Opening Lines time is upon us once more. This week I’m delighted to welcome Sue McDonagh to my blog, with the first 500 words from her novel,

Meet Me at the Art Cafe.

Over to you Sue…

Meet Me at the Art Café is a standalone novel, even though we meet some of the earlier characters from Summer at the Art Café, and they are both based on the beautiful Gower peninsula, in South Wales.
Our heroine, Jo, is a single mum who has a small part in the first novel, and I was intrigued about her background and how she’d arrived in Wales. At her age, I too relied solely on pedal power for a year, although I didn’t have to tow a little boy up the hills too!
I’m still a keen cyclist – but I bought an electric bicycle last winter, and it’s been a revelation. There is no hill I cannot cycle up, even with my two replacement hips.

Upcycling, recycling Jo is quite sniffy about motorbikes though, especially when the handsome Ed runs over her beloved bicycle on his vintage motorbike. It doesn’t look like a match made in heaven, does it?
I’m sure the characters wrote their own words for this novel – particularly little Liam, and Beryl, Jo’s neighbour, who often made me laugh aloud. I’d like to go on holiday with her – but I don’t think my liver would cope too well!
I’m especially proud that ChocLit asked me to paint my own book covers! Berni Stevens, the resident cover designer and I worked together on both covers and I love how they’re different but maintain the beach theme.

Blurb

Would you take a chance on a bad boy with a leather jacket and a vintage motorbike?

That’s the question single mum Jo Morris has to ask herself when she collides with local bike mechanic Ed Griffiths on a rainy Welsh hillside. Working at the Art Café, Jo hears the gossip and is all too aware of Ed’s reputation.

But whilst he’s certainly no angel, there is something about Ed’s daredevil antics that Jo can’t ignore. And as she gets to know him better and watches the kind way he deals with her young son Liam, she begins to wonder – is there more to this ‘bad boy’ than meets the eye?

First 500 words…

The middle-aged couple had been dithering over their order for ages. Lemon drizzle, or toasted tea-cake? Jo could hardly blame them. Everything looked and tasted wonderful at The Art Café.

Pinning her ‘take your time, I have all day,’ smile on, Jo’s eyes slid towards the panoramic windows that gave the café its wonderful view over the beach. Even when the blue-green sea was beginning to rumple into colourless waves, as it was now, blurring the divide between sea and sky on the Gower Peninsula and signalling rain, the coastline was always stunning. Jo could hardly remember a time when she knew nothing about South Wales.

Winter had turned the corner into spring, and there had been a steady flow of trade. Since her boss, Lucy, was poised on the brink of TV stardom, people visited as much in the hope of seeing her, as of the food and drink they were all so proud of.

‘Hello? When you’re ready?’ The man rapped on the counter and she jumped. ‘Cappuccino and a pot of tea.’ Flicking a glance over his shoulder at his wife as she found a table, he muttered, ‘And one chocolate fudge cake.’

‘Good choice. It’s delicious.’ Jo smiled. ‘Would you like a second plate and fork, sir?’

‘I’m not sharing it,’ the man said without a trace of humour, his eyes tracking the cake as she slid it onto the plate. ‘She said she didn’t want any.’

That hadn’t been the message that Jo had understood from their overheard conversation but she clamped her lips together and got on with the order. Her mobile phone, stashed in the pocket of her apron, buzzed just as she turned the steam wand on, spitting scalding water onto her hand.

‘Ouch!’ Whirling to run the cold tap, she read St Michael’s Primary on the screen and fumbled the accept button. Her little boy’s school. They never rang.

‘Hello, this is Ms Morris,’ she whispered. ‘Is anything wrong?’

‘Our order …’ the customer reminded her, sharply.

‘I’m so sorry, I’ll have to call you back. I’m at work,’ Jo said hurriedly into the phone, cutting the call. She could barely hear the secretary anyway over the tap and the still steaming nozzle. Despite the woman’s habitual peremptory tone.

Despite her stinging hand, she assembled the tea tray with an apologetic smile to the customer – unreciprocated – and returned the call as soon as he’d sat down.

‘Everything alright Jo?’ Her other boss, Richard, looked up from the other end of the counter where he was re-stocking the cake display. The Art Café had brought together his culinary flair and Lucy’s artistic talents, resulting in an inviting eating place where you could also buy gifts and fine art. Both happily settled with their own partners, they made a great team, and Jo loved working for them.

She swallowed, knowing this wouldn’t be a popular request, but there was no-one else who could go to the school. She was on her own. ‘Richard…

***

Praise for Meet Me at the Art Cafe:

~ The author’s ability to make her characters come alive is outstanding and I urge you to buy this book and visit the beautiful, if slightly damp at times, Welsh coast, and the Art Café, once more.
~ Great story of totally relatable characters, Ed and Jo. There is a bit everything in this book, mystery, humour, love and drama! The star of the book for me though was Liam (aged 4 nearly 5), his comic comments had me giggling away.
~ Back to the Art Cafe and it is just as wonderful as the first visit – check out Summer at the Art Cafe if you missed it! – and I just adored every aspect of this book!
~ I loved this book. The story has a lovely flow, the characters are all engaging, the descriptions are realistic: in some ways the author takes a back seat and lets the story shine.

Buy Link to Meet Me at the Art Caféhttps://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B07NCTYTHB&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_K2M.CbD52NWDF

Kobo link: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/meet-me-at-the-art-cafe-choc-lit 

***

About Sue:
My career as a policewoman in the Essex Police was interrupted when I was twenty four, by ovarian cancer. A year of surgery and chemotherapy meant a successful recovery, which led to a convalescent year in the Essex Police Press Office. This suited me as I’d always fancied being a journalist, and meant that I could play with joined up writing and stationary.

When I moved to Wales to marry a man widowed by cancer and became instant mum to his two little boys, I used my Press Office skills and wrote press releases and eventually, blog posts for the various clubs and organisations I was involved with.

Art evolved into a full time occupation and I made a living teaching and sketching portraits on the spot at agricultural and seaside shows, moving into more considered work as time went on and appearing on Sky TV in 2014 in the regional finals of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year.

I now work almost exclusively to commission, but also give demonstrations and talks to art societies and other groups, which I enjoy. 2019 saw my first solo show for some years, together with the launch of my paperback, Summer at the Art Café.

In 1982, following chemotherapy, I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End in ten days, fundraising over £8000 towards a cancer scanner for St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where I was treated.

After my first hip replacement twelve years ago, I and three friends walked 45 miles across the Peak District in 16 hours and raised £10,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

When my second hip needed replacing, I thought about commemorating it with a further bonkers fundraising idea, but to everyone’s relief, found my excitement in writing.

Nearly ten years ago I learned to ride a motorbike, and now help to run Curvy Riders, a national, women only, motorbike club. I am the regional rep for the bottom half of Wales, and regularly ride out on my Honda CBF1000F.

If I balance on my bedroom windowsill, I can see the sea, a mile away. My Border terrier, Scribble, comes to work in my open-to-the-public studio/gallery in Cowbridge with me, and thinks the customers only come in to see him. Sometimes, I think that too…

Many thanks for a great blog Sue. Wonderful opening lines- and fantastic book cover too.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Opening Lines with Jill Barry : Love Thirty

This week’s Opening Lines come from the pen of the multi-genre talented Jill Barry.

Tennis anyone?

Love Thirty was published last year and appeals even to hard line non tennis fans. Below is a short extract from one review:

What a great book this was! I loved Georgia’s fiery character. I was a little bit cross with her initially for giving up her career to follow Nick but to be honest, he sounded so wonderful that I’d have followed him too!  He was kind, and sexy and was passionate about Georgia. Yup, I’d have definitely have followed him!

Jill’s novel grew from a short story which The Lady Magazine published a few years. The original Georgia is a journalist who goes on to achieve much more than she expects, but the novel has provided the chance to explore so many more characters, including a sexy French chef and of course, the tennis player Georgia meets when she interviews him for the local paper for which she writes.

Blurb:

With all the back and forth of a Wimbledon final, Love Thirty is a lively romance set among the gentle green of England and the delicious restaurants of Paris. If you enjoy having a cast list of fascinating characters, here’s just the read for you.

First 500 words…

“What kept you?” Georgia frowned at Andy. “Much longer and I’d have had to catch King Gregory on my phone.”

“Have I ever let you down? Come on, Ms Lyle, I bet you only just arrived.” Andy Spiller and his crinkly-eyed smile had worked for Spire Journal forever.

She grinned. “You know me so well.”

The crowd chattered and fidgeted and played with their phones. Georgia shaded her eyes and saw motorcyclists in leathers, guarding the African monarch’s limo like mother hens. Across the road, a brass band struck up a ragged version of a familiar tune. Georgia supposed it must be the African state’s national anthem though it sounded like Errol Brown’s I Believe in Miracles. The band played ‘you sexy thing’, leaving Georgia hoping His Majesty possessed a sense of humour.

The limousine growled to a halt. Out jumped two men in black suits and shades, tweaking earpieces. A police officer opened the nearside rear door and King Gregory emerged, designer-crumpled, into the sunshine. His Majesty was eye candy. Georgia didn’t need her unique shorthand to record that.

“Is he the king, Mummy?” A flag-waving child pointed. “Where’s his crown?”

Mummy’s mouth was a big round O.

The centre’s manager, tall and glamorous in her clingy white dress and killer heels, curtseyed, displaying a perfect cleavage. The BBC cameraman homed in as if he’d scored a Wimbledon gig while Andy wiped his lens on his cuff.

Georgia stepped forward, feeling in her pocket for her press pass. Nothing. Blind panic, always there when you least needed it, glued her pistachio leather pumps to the pavement. “Come on, come on!” She delved deep into her bag, rifling through phone, wallet and diary. Lipstick. Driving licence. Passport. All these items vital in the unlikely event she was offered an interview with an A list celebrity.

No press pass. This mess was stickier than a chocolate éclair. She signalled to Andy that she needed him. Urgently.

The Snooty Fox wasn’t the nearest pub to the office but its bar was less likely to be propped up by the editor. After work, Andy and Georgia shared a packet of smoky bacon crisps and sipped cold lagers outside in the beer garden.

“It was my own stupid fault, Andy. No wonder Baz slapped my wrist. He’s only doing his job and I clearly wasn’t doing mine.”

Andy grunted. “You’re too charitable, Sugar Puff. The guy’s got it in for you.”

She didn’t respond, even though she sensed his resentment approaching High Doh.

“Anyway,” he said. “If there’d been a local cop in charge, you’d have walked it. That officer we spoke to? Talk about majoring in pomposity.”

Georgia pleated her empty crisp packet. “That nice woman police officer found me a good spot when I arrived. Just my luck she’d gone to sort out those kids swigging cider.”

Andy nodded. “Yeah, I heard Officer Dibble refuse to interrupt her. Aha, that’s better! I hate it when you’re unhappy. You don’t suit unhappy, Sugar…”

***

Endeavour Media, are offering Love Thirty at a reduced price from 1st to 8th July – the first week of the Wimbledon Championships.

I hope you’ll download it and enjoy discovering just why her approaching 30th birthday kick starts Georgia into taking drastic action which significantly changes her life. Warning: Food description may make your mouth water!

***

You can find out more about Love Thirty by following this link or visiting Jill’s website and clicking on Books.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Thirty-Jill-Barry-ebook/dp/B079VHLCNG

Bio:

Jill Barry writes mainly romantic contemporary and historical fiction though her next full-length work is a psychological suspense novel set in mid Wales. She has worked in a variety of jobs since leaving secretarial college, and enjoys drawing on some of her experiences when plotting her novels. She is proud and slightly bemused to have been well-published by Accent Xcite as well as The People’s Friend, for whom she has written eleven novellas. Jill Barry Linford Romances can be found in public libraries and so far, she has twelve on the shelves, with another two being published in 2020.

You can visit her website: www.jillbarry.com

Follow her on Twitter: @barry_jill

Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillBarryBooks/ 

***

Many thanks for sharing your fabulous opener with us Jill – even as a long time tennis avoider, I’m keen to have a read!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


20 Quick-Fire Questions – with me!

20 Quick-Fire Questions – With Me!

1.Why have you neglected this blog so much lately?

One of the other mes- Jennifer Ash- has been very busy writing a novella for ITV/Spiteful Puppet, The Meeting Place– a Robin of Sherwood story. You can imagine how excited I am about that- being something of a Robin Hood fan.  What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was a fan…?.

As ‘Jennifer,’ I have also been researching the historical records prior to drafting the fourth of The Folville Chronicles. This will (eventually) be called Outlaw Justice, and will follow on from The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw and Edward’s Outlaw.

2. Are you more like Jennifer or Jenny or Kay (Kay Jaybee- erotica) in real life?

Jenny

3.Do you love coffee as much as the characters in your Another Cup of Coffee series?

Even more than they do!

4. How do you take it?

Black- nothing added- Americano for preference

5. How many cups do you drink a day?

Three – none after 2pm.

6. Do you really write in cafes and coffee shops like JK Rowling?

I really do.

7.What is your favourite hot drink – apart from coffee?

Coffee is the only hot drink I like- I HATE tea, and I’m allergic to milk, so can’t have hot chocolate, latte etc

8. Favourite colour?

Purple

9. Boots, trainers, or heels?

Boots – I am not sporty and I’d break my neck in heels. I am very clumsy!

10. Are the characters in Another Cup of Coffee based on real people?

Some of them are.

11. Which ones?

My lips are sealed.

12. Spoil sport- give us a clue?

I knew three of them at University- although I obviously wrote exaggerated versions of them- and they are all still my friends and totally lovely.

13. What did you study at University?

I did an Archaeology degree, and then a Medieval History  PhD.

 

14. Ohhh-  like Amy did in Another Cup of Coffee and like Grace did in Romancing Robin Hood.

Yes- just like Amy and Grace did (at University of Leicester – just like them)- I think I can guess the next question! (Of course I can, I’m making the questions up!…Straight jacket handy anyone??)

15. So  are you Amy or Grace?

I am a little tiny bit both of them.

16. You feature Kew Gardens in Another Cup of Coffee and Another Glass of Champagne. Have you been there, or did you just research in on Google?

I’ve been there a few times. I really like just wondering around the various greenhouses- and sitting in the cafe of course!

 

17. Jack and Rob run a bookshop in Another Cup of Coffee, is that based on a real place?

No, that I invented.

18. Coffee shop or book shop?

Both! But if I was only allowed to go to one – coffee shop (with a book- purchased in a bookshop on a previous trip-  or work in my bag)

19. Do  you prefer being Kay Jaybee- Queen of BDSM Kink- or Jenny Kane- writer of  book chocolate- or Jennifer Ash- medieval crime writer ?

I love being all of them – it is wonderful to be able to create such different styles of work, and thus- hopefully- make more people happy when they read! (Well- that’s the plan!)

20. What is Jenny going to do next?

As Jenny, I’ve just finished the first in a new trilogy of contemporary fiction novels set on Exmoor. This ‘feel good’ story – which obviously contains many servings of coffee and- in this case- generous helpings of lemon cake-  is currently with my agent. Fingers crossed she likes it!

 

Happy reading!

Jenny xx

 


Another Cup…of Covers

My Another Cup of…series has had a revamp!

Check out the new covers!

Another Cup of Coffee

‘A wonderful piece of literature that will fill your heart with warmth… A delight from start to finish’ – Bookmark That
‘Delicious, delightful, and simply irresistible’ – Bookish Jottings

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 got completely 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 a bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Another Cup of Christmas

A novella length sequel to Another Cup of Coffee

Five years ago the staff of Pickwicks cafe in Richmond were thrown into turmoil when their cook and part-owner, Scott was involved in an accident. With help from his wife, friends and the staff at the local hospital, he bounced back.

Now Pickwicks is preparing to host a special Christmas fundraiser to thank the hospital. Pickwicks waitress Megan and Nick, the ward’s administrator are put in charge to organise the whole thing. Megan and Nick’s emails start out as harmless practicality but soon turn flirtatious … Can you actually fall for someone you’ve never met?



Christmas in the Cotswolds

A novella length sequel to Another Cup of Coffee

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

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

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

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

Christmas at the Castle

A novella length seasonal treat from Jenny Kane, featuring much-loved characters from her bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee.

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

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

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

Another Glass of Champagne

A follow-up – full length novel- to the runaway success Another Cup of Coffee.

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?

***

Hope you like the new look!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


8 Reasons to go on an Imagine writing retreat

Only a few rooms remain! Reserve your place now!

Alison Knight and I are proud to be hosting Imagine’s second writing retreat at Northmoor House.

8 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1. Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2. Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (Don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3. With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4. On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5. However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6. Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

7. Meet celebrated novelist Kate Lord Brown! Kate will be our guest speaker on the Tuesday evening.

8. Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus help on tap, a chance to meet Kate Lord Brown, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £550 is a BARGAIN.

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx


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