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

Category: Fiction Page 1 of 59

OUT NOW IN PAPERBACK: Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

Today, I’m delighted to be able to announce, that my bestselling novel, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, has been published in paperback. 

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

Blurb

Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.

Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex-wife suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.

As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most...

***

Not only is there a wedding in the offing, but an archaeological dig is in full swing in the Cotswolds, and Mabel is about to have her iron clad confidence shaken!

You can buy Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange as a paperback from all good bookshops, as well as an ebook from-

I’ve been so lucky to be blessed with some fabulous feedback for the whole Mill Grange series. Here are a few of the reviews for Spring Blossoms.

Reviews

“Don’t you just love a book that’s sweeps you away from where you are and transports to a sunnier happy time. Well this book is the perfect escape. Curl up and enjoy. This romantic comedy. I loved it.” NetGalley

“…What a lovely feel-good story! It’s a fantastic mixture of romance, humour, and filled with just enough laughable and serious moments to balance it out. I appreciate being able to read a clean romance. In fact, there’s a couple of romances in this story. Kane has figured out the perfect recipe! Her lovingly crafted characters are true to life and experience believable life events. Northmoor House, a Victorian manor, in Somerset, on the edge of Exmoor near Dulverton (Upwich in the novels) is the setting and the star of the show. The idyllic landscape is perfect for anyone wanting to escape for a while. Kane’s writing style with its gorgeous and vivid descriptions, allows readers to visit the places and follow the characters as if they’d been there themselves.  For returning readers, you’ll be able to catch up with Tina, Sam, Thea, Shaun, Bert and Mabel as well as get to know Tom and Helen better. The author’s love for the series shows, making this a novel to be on your radar come publication….” NetGalley

“What a fantastic story this was, I loved it from start to finish. This is a well written, truly delightful read” NetGalley

“This is a really easy read which definitely had me smiling and maybe I did shed a tear or two, as well. This the third story from the Mill Grange series and I really recommend reading them all. I will be waiting impatiently for the next instalment.” NetGalley

“Kane’s writing style with its gorgeous and vivid descriptions, allows readers to visit the places and follow the characters as if they’d been there themselves.” NetGalley

“What a fantastic story this was, I loved it from start to finish. This is a well written, truly delightful read, set in Exmoor, in the fictional town of Upwich, Jenny conjures up the feel of the area and the people who live there perfectly. Jenny Kane’s expressive descriptions of the area certainly bring it to life.

The book revolves about the lives of four couples, Tina and Sam, Shaun and Thea, Tom and Helen, and Bert and Mabel, each of them is intrinsic to the story and the running of Mill Grange. I loved catching up with the lives of the people from Mill Grange and the characters themselves in this series of books. They are well rounded and I felt like I know them well, like old friends. Seeing how their lives and relationships are evolving was wonderful.

This is a really easy read which definitely had me smiling and maybe I did shed a tear or two, as well. This the third story from the Mill Grange series and I really recommend reading them all. I will be waiting impatiently for the next instalment.” Amazon

“Having read the first two books in this series I was really looking forward to reading this book, and I wasn’t disappointed.
A fantastic story, hard to put down. Read it in nearly one sitting.
A well – written, enjoyable read, it’s set in Exmoor. The people of that area were so well written and so were the descriptions.
This story revolves around the lives of four couples – Tina and Sam, Shaun and Thea, Tom and Helen, and Bert and Mabel, each couple being a key part of this story and the continuous running of Mill Grange.
It felt so good to catch up with everyone. Felt like meeting old friends after a while.
There were moments when a tear was shed white reading..
I would definitely recommend reading this series. Eagerly awaiting the next one.”  Amazon

“Ah, Jenny has done it again … I am already champing at the bit for book 4!
Back with the gang at Mill Grange is like meeting up with long lost friends. This time we find out if Helen and Tom finally see the light, Thea helps front Landscape Treasures and Mabel and Bert take on roles they never expected.” Amazon 

“…I’m a huge fan of these books and have been eagerly anticipating the next instalment of the series. All the regular characters return with all their flaws and foibles and are rounded out still further. The beginning of the book did cause me a few moments of tension and I did consider messaging Jenny to tell her that I would never speak to her again if she had done something bad to a particular character – I refrained however, as I didn’t think she’d necessarily appreciate the late night text! Usually in books of this genre, you know you’re guaranteed a happy ending, but this is Jenny and she doesn’t always do the expected – one of the reasons I love her books so much!…” R E Loten 

***

Many thanks to everyone who has bought and read my Mill Grange novels. Book Four – Winter Fires at Mill Grange will be out this coming November.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

A Touch of Spring

With the third Mill Grange novel, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, coming out in paperback on Thursday, I thought I’d share an extract from Thea, Shaun, Tom, Helen, Tina and Sam’s latest adventure.

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

Blurb

Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.

Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex-wife suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.

As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most...

Extract

‘Do you honestly think I’ll need eighteen pairs of knickers? It’s the Cotswolds, not the Kalahari.’

Thea scooped the entire contents of her underwear drawer onto the bed as Shaun flung open a suitcase.

‘No, I think you’ll need thirty pairs or more, but as you only have eighteen, then pack them.’

‘Seriously?’ Thea eyed some of her older undies with suspicion. The greying fabric had been consigned to the back of the drawer to be used in emergencies only, although now she thought about it, she wasn’t sure what that emergency might be. An archaeological excavation in the middle of nowhere, perhaps?

‘You know what it’s like on a dig. Laundry facilities only happen to other people. A flushing toilet can be a luxury sometimes.’

‘Won’t the local village have a launderette?’

‘It’s the Cotswolds, Thea. The people who can afford to live there don’t need launderettes.’ Shaun winked. ‘I tend to wring out my smalls in the nearest public toilet sink or a bucket of cold water.’

Thea laughed. ‘I used to do that when I was a student on excavation.’ Stuffing every pair of socks she owned into the suitcase, she added, ‘Age has softened me!’

‘You’ve got used to manor house living, that’s what it is.’ As Shaun threw a pile of t-shirts onto the bed, he caught a glimpse of anxiety crossing Thea’s face. ‘I was only joking. It’s not like student times. We get a catering truck, posh tents and Portaloos. The only thing we don’t have is regular access to a washing machine.’

Holding a thick jumper to her chest, Thea pulled a face. ‘I’m not worried about knickers or having our own bathroom or anything like that. It’s just… what if the show’s new producer hates me? Phil gave me the job as co-host of Landscape Treasures because of the work I did for you in Cornwall, but the new guy… is it a guy?’

‘It is. A bloke called Julian Blackwood. I’ve not worked with him before, but I’ve heard he’s good.’

‘Well, what if this Julian takes one look at me and decides to trade me in for a younger model? I’m thirty-three for goodness sake, that’s ancient in female telly present land.’

‘Then he’d be a fool. Anyway, that attitude, thank goodness, is gradually dying off. And if he was a “pretty young thing” bloke, rather than a “pretty thirty-something with experience and talent” type of chap, then he’d lose your skills and my respect. Which, as I’m the show’s presenter, would be pretty stupid.’

‘That’s the other thing.’

‘What is?’ Shaun threw a mountain of socks into the case, many of which, Thea was convinced she’d never seen before.

‘I don’t want the guest-presenter role just because I’m your partner. Some of the archaeologists are bound to think that’s why I got it. If Phil only gave me the job because—’

Raising a hand to stop the fear he’d heard Thea utter at least once a week since Landscape Treasures had asked her to appear as their Roman expert for the next series’ opening episode, Shaun said, ‘You got the job because you are good at it. End of. Now, if you put all the clothes you want to take on the bed, I’ll finish packing them so you can go and say goodbye to Tina and Helen. Go to Sybil’s or something. It’ll be a while before you have a scone as good as one from her café.’

‘There is something rather delicious about sneaking off for morning coffee on a work day.’ Tina raised her coffee cup in salute to Thea and Helen as they waited for Sybil to deliver a round of her famous cheese scones.

‘I ought to be scraping a ton of mud off the shovels ready for the new guests this afternoon,’ Helen dropped a sugar cube into her mug, ‘but I can live with the guilt.’

Looking at her two friends across the Spode covered, table, Thea smiled. ‘I’m going to miss you two.’

‘You’re only going for eight weeks. Anyway, you’ll be far too busy being famous to miss the likes of us,’ Helen gave her a friendly nudge, ‘and too knackered from all the digging to notice the time passing.’

Thea laughed, ‘The famous bit I doubt, the knackered bit I can’t argue with. I ache enough after a day helping you and Tom on our fortlet, these days. A full eight week dig with television cameras watching my every move is going to kill me.’

‘Don’t be daft.’ Tina looked up as Sybil arrived at their table, ‘I swear your scones smell more delicious every time we come in here.’

Sybil rolled her eyes, ‘Praise indeed seeing as at least one of you – Thea – is here every other day testing the merchandise.’

Thea stuck out her tongue. ‘Well, the chicken’s eggs need delivering. It would be rude to walk all this way and not sample the goods.’

‘It’s a twenty-minute walk! You make it sound like you need Kendal Mint Cake and crampons!’

‘I’m going to miss your cooking almost as much as I’ll miss you, Sybil.’

Picking up a large paper bag from where she’d placed it on the next table, the café owner passed it to Thea. ‘Well, these should keep you going for a while at least.’

Having peeped inside the top of the bag, Thea got up and gave Sybil a hug. ‘Thank you.’

‘I didn’t want Shaun to go without my scones either.’

‘Shaun?’ Thea laughed. ‘If you think a bag of your scones will last long enough to share with him, you are under a serious misconception!’…

The entire Mill Grange series is available on all ebook platforms, as well as in paperback.

Happy reading,
Jenny x

Opening Lines with Colette McCormick: Things I Should Have Said And Done

This week’s Opening Lines welcomes Colette McCormick, and features the first 500 words from her novel,

Things I Should Have Said and Done.

BLURB

‘It is only after death that life can be fully understood.’

Ellen’s life is over in an instant when a drunk driver comes out of nowhere and hits the car that she is driving.

She never knew what hit her.

But Ellen in only young, she isn’t ready to die and there are loose ends to tie up before she can move ‘beyond the light.’ Luckily she isn’t alone, she has George to look after her. He’s new to the job and his methods aren’t exactly orthodox but together they set about dealing with Ellen’s issues.

There is Marc, the man that Ellen still loves. She watches him struggle with life as a single parent as she herself struggles with the realisation that Marc needs to move on without her. There is Naomi, the child that Ellen left behind, the child that becomes Ellen’s link to those that still live. And there is her mother whose life is falling apart.

Ellen looks for ways to help and with George constantly at her side she learns that even though she is dead, she is not helpless. There are things that she can so from beyond the grave to influence what happened in the world that she left behind.

No-one ever said that being dead was easy.

FIRST 500 WORDS

One minute I was fine and the next … well, I’m not sure what I’d call it exactly, but I’d never felt it before. I was shaking and I could hardly breathe and all I could think was, Oh my God! What’s going on? To be honest, there might have been the odd expletive as well but, oh my God! What’s going on? was the gist of it.

Surrounding me was can only say was an incredible light. It was like when there’s been heavy snow and your eyes struggle to adjust to the sun shining off it. You know, like when your eyes can’t really focus on anything because everything is so white. It was just like that, except whiter. My eyes instinctively screwed up to protect themselves like they would do on a really sunny day but this light wasn’t like a sunny day, not even a very sunny day. This light physically hurt my eyes.

I tried to open them a couple of times but it hurt so much I was forced to keep them closed. I was in complete panic.

I was breathing in short bursts which I took in and let out in stages. I didn’t know what was going on but I knew I was panicking. I’d never had a panic attack before and I couldn’t understand why I was having one now.

What on earth was that light? I asked the question over and over in my head. What is that light? What is that light? What is that light?

I also asked myself why it was so noisy. There were loud noises all around, like when I’m watching TV at my granddad’s and he hasn’t got his hearing aid in. People were shouting, and someone even screamed. I wanted to scream myself but couldn’t. It was taking everything I had to breathe.

Oh my God, what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I breathe properly? Why were my teeth chattering?

The answer to all three had to be the same – I was scared. No, I was more than scared; I was petrified.

I tried to think.

Somehow I knew that no matter how much it hurt, I would have to open my eyes. I thought rubbing my eyes might help but it only made things worse. So now, as well as the light, there were circles flickering under my eyelids as if I had a migraine coming on. Ah, I thought, that’s it; I’ve got a migraine forming. It would be worse than any other I’d had before, but that was the only explanation. Oh great, not only would I have a blinding headache soon but I’d have the vomiting later. Yippee!

That would have to wait. Right now, I had other things to worry about. Slowly, a millimetre at a time, I forced my eyes open and blinked rapidly in a desperate attempt to adjust to the light. They hurt like hell, but I’d managed to get them this far …

You can  buy Things I Should Have Said and Done on Amazon

 

BIO

Colette was born and raised in Sheffield but now lives in North East England. She has had a wide range of jobs from ledger clerk to school dinner lady and lots of things in between but in 2001 she found her calling in the world of charity retail. After working for CR UK for 10 years she now works for Barnardo’s and while it’s a job that she loves, writing is her real passion. When she is not working or writing there is a good chance you will find Colette, baking, gardening or walking the dog in the beautiful countryside that Co Durham has to offer. She has been married almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

Blog

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

Many thanks Colette, for sharing your opening lines with us today,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Crediton Literary Festival: Exmoor and Scones

If you’ve ever been curious as to why my current set of romcoms on Exmoor – or why the consumption of scones is such a feature – then why not come along to listen to my talk at the Crediton Literary Festival.

This FREE event is available via Zoom – but you must book a ticket to attend.

The line up for the whole day is fabulous.

You can book here – bit.ly/CredLit21

See you there!

Jenny xx

Meet The Winter Outlaw

As I’m up to my eyes in words at the moment, I thought I’d leave you a little something to read from The Folville Chronicles – Book Two – while I crack on!

The Winter Outlaw .

Blurb

1329:  It is the dead of winter. The notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside—a man who has designs on the Folville family’s criminal connections.

Determined to stop this usurper in his tracks, Robert Folville unearths a man hiding in one of Ashby-Folville’s sheep shelters. A steward from far-off West Markham in Nottinghamshire, the cold, hungry Adam Calvin claims he knows nothing of any threat to the Folville family. He has troubles of his own, for he is being pursued by vengeful sheriff, Edmund de Cressy, for a crime he did not commit.

Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story, but with rumours about a vendetta against the family growing, the Folville brothers are suspicious of every stranger.

***

Here’s the prologue to whet your appetite…

Prologue: Winter 1329

Adam Calvin’s vision blurred as his eyes streamed in the cold. His breath came in wheezing puffs. He needed to rest, but he daren’t. Not yet.

It was only as the vague outline of a cluster of homes and workshops came into view in the distance that he realised where his legs had been taking him. Slowing his pace, but not stopping, Adam risked a glance over his shoulder. He’d expected to see dogs, horses and men chasing him, but there was nothing. No one.

Scanning the scene ahead, making sure he wasn’t running into trouble as well as away from it, Adam exhaled heavily and aimed for a building he hoped was still standing.

The last time he’d visited the tiny village of Walesby there had been an old grain store on its outskirts. Built too close to the point where the frequently flooding Rivers Maun and Meden merged, the grain store had paid the price of a poor location. Long since abandoned in favour of a superior bake house, it was a perfect temporary hiding place for a man on the run.

Adam had no breath left with which to sigh for relief when he saw the neglected grain store. Uttering a prayer of thanks to Our Lady for the fact the building hadn’t been pulled down, he lifted the worn latch. He eased his way into the damp space, which was stuffed with rotting sacks containing all manner of rubbish.

Scrabbling awkwardly over the first few rows of musty sacks, Adam made himself a man-sized gap at the back of the room. Sinking down as far as he could, hoping both the sacks and the dark would shield him long enough for his cramped limbs to rest, he did his best to ignore the putrid stench and allowed his mind to catch up on events.

Only a few hours ago everything in Adam’s life had been as it should be.

He’d been fast asleep in his cot in the small private room his status as steward to Lord John de Markham gave him.

Had given him.

Adam wasn’t sure what time it had been when he’d been shaken to his senses from sleep by Ulric, the kitchen boy. He suspected it hadn’t been much more than an hour after he’d bedded down for the night.

Ulric, who’d frantically reported that a hue and cry had been called to capture Adam, had urged his master to move quickly. The sheriff had unexpectedly arrived and there had been a brief meeting between him, the Lord Markham and one other unknown man. An anxious Ulric had said that rumours were flying around like snowflakes in the wind.

Some of the household staff were saying Adam had stolen something, some that there had been a death; a murder.

Either way, for his own safety, Steward Calvin had to leave. Fast.

Confused, scared and angry that his good name was being questioned; without having time to find out what was going on or defend himself, Adam had grabbed his scrip. Pulling on his boots and cloak, with Ulric’s help he’d headed through the manor via the servants’ walkways.

The only item Adam hadn’t been able to find to take with him was his knife. Contenting himself with lifting one from Cook’s precious supplies as he ran through the kitchen, he’d left the manor that had been his home for the past twenty years.

With a fleeting nod of gratitude to his young helper, Adam had fled into the frosty night. Only minutes later he’d heard the calls of the hue and cry; echoes of the posse’s footfalls thudding against the hard, icy earth.

Now, wiping tears of exhaustion away with the back of his hand, Adam strained his ears through the winter air. All he could hear was the busy work of the mice or rats who were taking as much advantage of the building as he was.

Glad of the water pouch Ulric had stuffed in his scrip, Adam took a tiny sip. He didn’t know how long it would have to last him. Closing his eyes, he rested his head against the sacks that boxed him in and tried to think.

Had he outstripped the hue and cry? If they were nearby, taking the chance to rest while waiting for him to run again, then Adam was sure he’d have heard something ‑ but there were no muttered voices, no horses panting and no hounds barking at his scent.

Adam managed to get his breathing under control. He’d been part of the hue and cry on occasions himself, and he knew such groups didn’t tend to chase their quarry far, or for long. Especially not on a cold winter’s night, when they could be tucked up in bed before the demands of the next working day.

With growing confidence that he’d chosen his bolthole well, Adam allowed himself to relax a fraction. Few people lived in Walesby since the most recent of many destructive floods, and its location meant he was only a few steps from the edge of Sherwood Forest. A desperate man could easily disappear into the woodland’s depths.

As the hours ticked on, Adam became convinced that the pursuit had stopped. However, he knew that by the morning the hue and cry would be replaced with soldiers if the sheriff barked the order. His bolthole wouldn’t stay safe for long.

Yet that wasn’t what concerned Adam the most. He wanted to know what he was supposed to have done that warranted his midnight flight. How could he even begin to go about clearing his name if he didn’t know what he was accused of?

In the meantime, where was he going to go?

***

Ever since I did my PhD (on medieval crime and its portrayal in the ballad literature of the fourteenth century), I have wanted to use what I learnt to tell a series of stories. Although I’ve written all sorts of things between 1999, when my PhD finished, and now – I still wasn’t sure it would ever happen.  Yet, here I am, with the complete series of The Folville Chronicles available for you to enjoy. The were so much fun to write,

 

You can buy The Winter Outlaw from Amazon and all good book retailers-

UK: http://ow.ly/RsKq30j0jev 
US: http://ow.ly/EvyF30j0jfk  

Happy reading,

Jen xx

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: The Legacy

This week’s Opening Lines come from friend, and fellow author,

Alison Knight. 

Pop your feet up for five minutes, and have a read…

Hi Jenny,

Thanks so much for inviting me to share the first 500 words of my new book, The Legacy. It starts with a Prologue which is a scene from my previous book, Mine.

Blurb:

An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape. 

London, 1969.

James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.

Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.

Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.

Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?

FIRST 500 WORDS FROM THE LEGACY…

APRIL 1969

A nursing home in Essex

The matron showed them into a private room where Miss Jarvis reclined in bed, propped up by half a dozen pillows. It was obvious that the old woman was very ill, but her eyes were clear, and she smiled when she saw them. Someone had tidied her snowy-white hair, and she wore a pink bed jacket over her nightie.

The man, solicitor Leonard Warwick introduced his companion, Lily Wickham, and she stepped forward and took the old lady’s proffered hand. She was shocked by the frailty of this tiny woman, because her gaze was direct and her voice strong when she spoke.

“I’m delighted to meet you. I understand Mr Irwin is too important these days to visit an old woman.” She sniffed. “I remember that boy when he was in short trousers.”

Lily blinked, and Leonard raised his eyebrows.

Miss Jarvis smiled. “I take it he didn’t mention that I went to school with his mother? No, I thought not. He always was a tricky one, full of his own importance. I’m surprised he wasn’t worried I’d reveal his secrets.” She looked them up and down. “However, I assume he felt he could rely upon your professionalism and my discretion, so I’ll excuse him this time.”

Leonard smiled and opened his briefcase. “He sends his apologies, Miss Jarvis, but he simply couldn’t get away today, I’m afraid. But he didn’t want to let you down, so here we are in his stead. I have your new will here, together with a copy for you to keep. Mrs Wickham and I will be your witnesses.”

They sat in chairs on either side of the bed while Leonard went through the will, clause by clause, making sure Miss Jarvis understood everything. She nodded and waved him on occasionally, saying, “Yes, yes, that hasn’t changed. Go on, go on.”

Eventually Leonard finished. “So, to make absolutely sure, Miss Jarvis, this new will leaves the sum of five thousand pounds to your nephew, and the residue of your estate to your god-daughter.”

“Correct.”

“And this is to supersede your previous will which left five thousand pounds to your god-daughter and the residue to your nephew.”

“That is also correct.”

Leonard hesitated.

“You have a question, Mr Warwick?”

“Forgive me,” he said. “I’m simply wondering if there is a particular reason why you’ve chosen to effectively disinherit your only blood relative.” He raised a hand when she would have replied. “Of course, you are entitled to make whatever provision you wish. I’m simply trying to establish that your nephew won’t have any recourse to a claim against your estate, Miss Jarvis. Such cases can seriously deplete the value of an inheritance for all concerned.”

The old lady leaned forward, pinning Leonard with a steely gaze. “I have also read Bleak House, Mr Warwick. I can assure you, I am in full command of my faculties, and this decision has not been taken lightly.”

She turned to Lily…

***

So there you have it, the first 500 words of The Legacy. This first scene was a minor incident in Mine, but I kept wondering what would happen to Miss Jarvis’s heirs after her death. It was a joy to write and some of the characters from Mine make cameo appearances in The Legacy. I seem to be on a roll now because my next book will follow what happens to James’s girlfriend, Fliss, a few years after the end of The Legacy. Watch this space!

BUY LINK – The Legacy by Alison Knight is published by Darkstroke Books and is available from: https://mybook.to/legacy

Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. She signed her first three-book publishing contract a year after she completed her master’s degree.

The Legacy is her fifth novel and the second book published by Darkstroke Books. It is a drama set in 1960s London and France, exploring how we don’t always get what we want and how we shouldn’t count our chickens before they’re hatched. Her previous Darkstroke book, Mine, is a drama also set in 1960s London, based on real events in her family, exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics. Some of the characters from Mine also appear in The Legacy, although this is a standalone story.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS 

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

www.alisonroseknight.com

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

Many thanks Alison,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines with Karen King: One Summer in Cornwall

This week I’m pleased to be welcoming Karen King back to my blog, with the first 500 words of her lovely, feel good, romance,

One Summer in Cornwall.

Blurb

Escape to Cornwall this summer…

A gorgeous feel-good read, perfect for fans of CATHY BRAMLEY and PHILLIPA ASHLEY.

When Hattie is made redundant and evicted from her flat in one horrible week, she needs time to rethink. Her Uncle Albert left her and her father each half of Fisherman’s Rest, his home in the Cornish town of Port Medden, so this seems the perfect place to escape to until she can figure things out.

As Hattie stays in the cottage, clearing it out, tidying it up and getting it ready to sell, she starts to find her feet in Port Medden and making a new home here begins to feel right. If only her dad didn’t need a quick sale and things weren’t complicated by her unwelcoming neighbour Marcus . . .

FIRST 500 WORDS

Bloody hell! Who is it?’ Hattie Rowland froze at the voice, her finger poised on the light switch that she had been about to flick on. Someone was already in the cottage! Who could it be? A squatter? A burglar? For a moment she panicked, her breathing quick and shallow as she backed against the wall, wondering whether to run out again. Then she pulled herself together. She had every right to be here – whoever it was, they were trespassing, and she wasn’t going to be intimidated by them. She took a deep, steadying breath and grabbed hold of her motorbike helmet, which she had tucked under her arm, ready to use as a weapon if necessary. The intruder would soon realise that she didn’t scare easily. She pressed down the switch, gripping the helmet tightly, ready to spring into action. As the room lit up, there was a loud screech.

‘Turn it off! Turn it off!’

Buddy! Hattie burst out laughing as she spotted the green parrot, perched on a thick branch running across a huge cage tucked into the corner of the living area, just before the open ‘archway into the kitchen. The parrot’s head was turned towards the door, his beady eyes fixed on her as he squawked crossly. Uncle Albert’s beloved parrot. She hadn’t even realised that Buddy was still alive. As the big bird glared at her from his perch, his green feathers ruffled, the yellow ring around his neck clearly visible, she was transported back to her childhood. Hattie remembered stepping into the cottage with her parents to be greeted by Buddy screeching, ‘Bloody hell! Who is it?’ and her mother immediately trying to cover her ears. Uncle Albert, a fisherman, was her father’s much-older brother. He had never married and Buddy was his sole companion. Albert had worshipped the bird – and loved his little cottage by the sea. When he died a couple of months ago, Hattie had been surprised and touched to hear that he had left Fisherman’s Rest jointly to Hattie’s father, Owen, and Hattie. She had fond memories of summer holidays spent here in Port Medden with Uncle Albert when she was younger, and her parents were still together.

‘Hello, Buddy. It’s only me, Hattie. You probably don’t remember me. It’s been years since I last came down here,’ she said softly. She felt guilty about that, but her parents had finally divorced, after years of acrimony, when she was twelve, and then she had barely seen her dad, who had immediately moved to France with his new girlfriend, now wife, Raina and remained there. Obviously, her mum, who now lived in Portugal with her partner Howard, hadn’t wanted to spend summers with her ex-husband’s brother in Cornwall, so Hattie had lost touch with Uncle Albert. She dropped her saddlebags down onto the old brown sofa; she was sure it was the same one that had been there when she’d last visited – was it sixteen or seventeen years ago?…

If you would like to read on, you can buy One Summer in Cornwall from all good retailers, including-

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08N47LDQT/ 

Bio

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had eight romantic novels published, one psychological thriller with another one out later this year, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen 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

Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Bookbub 

Many thanks, Karen.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

A Cornish Summer

Beaches, cream teas, fresh fish and chips wrapped in paper, picnics, paddling in the sea, and sand castles! These are all things I associate with the summer holidays I had in Cornwall as a child.

My father was originally from Penzance, where his parents ran a guest house during the war years, taking in evacuees. Their home, on Alma Place, was my summer base from the age of one to eighteen. From there I would visit Marazion and St Michaels Mount, say hello to the mermaid of Zennor, and roam the cove at Sennen. I lost count of how often I visited The Buccaneer shell shop in Penzance itself, or queued for fudge in the now, sadly long gone, sweet shop on Market Jew Street.

Even though the beaches were often busy at high season, I always remember the air of peace and quiet that went with the small villages harbours. It was this feeling of having escaped from real life that I wanted to capture for the lead character in A Cornish Escape.

Abi Carter isn’t just heading to Cornwall for peace and quiet however. She is on the hunt for new, happier life- but to go forward, she needs to lay the ghost of a childhood dream to rest…

Blurb

‘A summer read as scrumptious as its Cornish backdrop. Brilliant!’ Nicola May

Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Phillipa Ashley and Cathy Bramley, this summer romance is sure to warm your heart.

Abi’s life is turned upside down when she is widowed before her thirtieth birthday. Determined to find something positive in the upheaval, Abi decides to make a fresh start somewhere new. With fond childhood memories of holidays in a Cornish cottage, could Cornwall be the place to start over?

With all her belongings in the boot of her car but no real plan, a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Max soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams but things aren’t as simple as Abi hoped.

Can Abi leave her past behind and finally get her happy ending?

Against the stunning backdrop of Sennen Cove and the Penwith area of Cornwall, Abi has many decisions to make, decisions which are made easier when she meets Max, Beth and Stan. But it isn’t long before Abi discovers, her new friends all have changes of their own to face…and ghosts to bury…

Extract

…Settling into a window seat of the Toffee Nut Café, Abi and Beth gratefully acknowledged the speedy arrival of two mugs of strong coffee and the sustaining slices of saffron cake that Beth insisted they have. ‘It’s a local speciality, and slightly better for you than a Cornish cream tea – which I love, but it isn’t exactly kind on the waistline.’

‘Well, Luke would definitely approve of it, then, although having said that,’ Abi picked up her slice of what looked like bright yellow fruit cake, ‘it still looks far too delicious for him to have approved of.’

‘Is Luke your husband?’ Beth took a bite from her own cake, trying not to make it obvious that she’d noticed the cloud that had passed over her previously cheerful companion’s face.

‘He was. I’m a widow.’

‘Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry! You’re so young. I had no idea!’

‘There’s no reason why you should have known.’ Abi began to play with her wedding ring, circling it around her finger as she stared into her mug. ‘He had a heart attack. Luke was older than me, and he had a very stressful job, but it was still unexpected.’

‘It must have been an awful shock!’

‘Yes.’ Abi cradled her mug of coffee and stared out across the street, admiring the granite cottages that seemed to reflect the warmth of the sunshine across the narrow road.

Not wanting to intrude, but at the same time consumed with curiosity and no small amount of concern for her new friend, Beth said, ‘We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but if you do want to offload, I’m a good listener. Just ask Max! I’ve been his emotional sounding-board for years, and he’s mine in return.’

‘He must be a wonderful boyfriend then.’ Abi sighed. ‘Looking back, I don’t think Luke ever had the patience to actually listen to me, and he certainly wouldn’t have shared anything he regarded as remotely emotional himself. That would have constituted weakness in his eyes.’

Beth would have laughed, but the expression of sadness on Abi’s face stopped her. ‘Really? That’s a shame. Luke was missing out there.’

‘I always thought so. Generation gap, perhaps. Although I don’t suppose twelve years is a big enough age difference for that really.’

Quiet descended over the table for a moment before Beth added, ‘And, umm … Max isn’t my boyfriend, he’s my best friend.’

Snapping out of the guilt-laden melancholy that had descended on her, Abi didn’t disguise her relief as much as she might normally have done. ‘You’re kidding! You look and act just like a couple.’

‘Do we?’ Beth shrugged. ‘We’ve been friends forever. We grew up together, and then we both decided to train as teachers. It seemed natural for us to study together, and so we applied for the same university.’

‘But Max didn’t get in?’

‘Oh, he got in alright.’

‘But he’s a painter and decorator? I don’t know him, but he seems like the sort of guy who would have made a great teacher.’

‘He would have, and I suspect he would be a headmaster by now if life hadn’t got in the way.’

The way Beth said ‘life’ made Abi suspect that she really meant a woman. ‘Life?’ Abi asked before sipping her coffee, before realising she was being nosy, ‘Sorry, it’s none of my business.’

Beth smiled. ‘I’m sure Max wouldn’t mind. Let’s just say he met his wife at university and she had other plans for him, and so the teacher training ended.’

‘She wanted him to be a decorator?’ Abi was confused.

‘No, she wanted him to be a lawyer or accountant or something high-powered. He did try, but he hated it, and she couldn’t understand why. In the end she ran off with someone else. That’s why he’s here. He came back to the area three years ago, and has been working at his decorating business ever since in his attempts to build a new life, and pay the old witch off.’

‘You weren’t a fan of hers then?’

‘Lucinda tore Max apart. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive her for how badly she treated him.’

Beth’s expression had become as dark as Abi’s had been, and even though she was dying to know more about Max, Abi also wanted to lift the mood. Changing the subject, she said, ‘We were going to tell each other what are new adventures were. Shall I go first, or will you?…’

You can buy A Cornish Escape from all good paperback and ebook retailers, including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cornish-Escape-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B0851927R4/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=A+Cornish+Escape+Jenny+Kane&qid=1586875747&s=books&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08739LQ25/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=A+Cornish+Escape+Jenny+Kane&qid=1586875948&s=books&sr=1-1

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Interview with Jane Risdon: Ms.Birdsong

Today I’m welcoming fellow author, Jane Risdon, back to my place for a cuppa and a slice of cake, while we chat about her latest novel writing venture.

So, grab a coffee, put your feet up for five minutes, and have a read.

Hello Jenny,

Thanks so much for hosting me on your lovely blog once more. I’ve always enjoyed my visits as both guest and reader.

I’m going to chat about my latest novel (book one of the series) Ms. Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka, which is out with publishers now so it is not available yet, but I hope this will interest your readers enough to seek it out once it is in the wide world.

What inspired you to write Ms. Birdsong Investigates?

I’ve always had an interest in espionage, organised crime, and the workings of our Secret Intelligence Services. I’ve read about it a lot and I have always wanted to include elements of these in my writing.

When I was younger I worked for many Government departments before I went into the international music industry with my musician husband. I worked at the British Ministry of Defence in Germany, The Atomic Energy Research Authority, The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, and when I was in my late teens I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, London.

The FCO at that time was a vastly different entity than it is today. It was the height of the Cold War, we had IRA threats daily, and I loved it. I was living in London at the time it was THE place to be on the planet and for a young girl who loved music, fashions, and a good crime thriller to read, it was heaven.

Whilst I was there we experienced the expulsion of British diplomats from the Soviet Embassy in Moscow in a tit-for-tat move sparked by the expulsion of 90 Russian diplomat spies from their London Embassy in 1971, who had been spying for the KGB. Also, the kidnapping of our Ambassador to Montevideo, Jeffrey Jackson, meant months of negotiations with the Tupamaros guerrillas; it was so exciting.

There were other incidents which have left an indelible mark on my memory and which have gone towards the inspiration behind Ms Birdsong’s series. The whole atmosphere around that time captured my imagination and I promised myself I would include what I experienced in a novel at some point. Ms Birdsong’s series will allow me to indulge myself over several novels, I hope.

Ms Birdsong is a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has been forced into ‘voluntary’ retirement following a messed-up joint operation with MI6 — Operation Matryoshka. She finds herself in a rural village in Oxfordshire, trying to work out what happened and why, and how to get back into the Security Services. She is asked to help find a missing local woman and sees this as a perfect opportunity to inveigle herself back into Thames House (home of MI5) when her investigations lead her into familiar territory. Her experience of organised crime and counter-terrorism is tested once more.

Do you model my characters on people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I have not modelled anyone in Ms. Birdsong Investigates on any person as far as I am aware. There were so many ‘characters’ working with me at the FCO and elsewhere that I am sure someone has found their way — albeit unconsciously — into my head and on to the page.

I would love to include the Commander from Special Branch who carried out my periodic Positive Vetting (PV) whilst at the FCO. He was instrumental in tracking and arresting the Russian husband and wife spies, the Krogers, who were part of the Portland Spy Ring of the early 1960s. He told me so much about it all. I’d love to weave it into a Ms. B story at some point.

I (we) have loosely modelled Only One Woman on real people because Christina Jones and I were writing about actual events we’d been involved with during our teens in the late 1960s UK music scene. We tried to blur the lines a lot and changed names and descriptions to save ourselves from litigation, but there are real people in the book. No-one, so far, as come forward to ask if they are the inspiration for any of the characters, and many have passed away since then anyway.

What type of research did you have to do?

I tend to research as I go along because I don’t plot or plan a book. I get inspiration for a story from a name, a location, something in the news, or a memory or an experience I have had, or I know others have had. I start writing and stop if I find myself needing to check something.

Only One Woman was written from memory, experiences, and the many diaries, tour schedules, photos, fan letters, and photos I’ve collected over my many years in the music business, as well as those garnered being married to a professional musician. Christina had her career as a rock/pop journalist and writer, as well as her personal experiences to fall back on, I am sure. We merged them in the novel. We both had to check facts such a venue names, chart positions, music, fashions, and the food and beverages we consumed, as well as world events. In general, I think our memories were all we really needed.

Once Ms Birdsong was underway I changed the story quite a lot from the one I thought I was writing. It got more involved with MI5 and organised crime and so I did have to look things up. For example, when I started the novel the role of MI5 and its involvement in the investigation of organised crime was slightly different to the role the Security Services has today. I had to go back and make changes to allow for this.  For example, MI5 spies are now allowed to kill! Back in 2016 when the story is set, they could not. In December 2020, the High Court ruled that spies operating on behalf of MI5 ‘can kill in the line of duty.’ This is a massive change to their former brief.

The role of MI5, as defined in the Security Service Act 1989, is “the protection of national security and in particular its protection against threats such as terrorism, espionage and sabotage, the activities of agents of foreign powers, and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means”.

Their work is guided by the government’s overall strategy to counter threats to the UK’s national security.  This includes organised crime.

I have and must still, keep up to date about what can and cannot be allowed, and how the SIS operates, to ensure that Ms Birdsong is working within those boundaries given the time in which the series is set. Having said this, Ms Birdsong is a work of fiction and so I do employ a great deal of poetic license within her story.

Which Point of View do you normally write in and why?

I feel comfortable with third person POV and for me it is the easiest way to get a story across. Having said that, Only One Woman is written in the first person because it just happened that way for me, and poor Christina Jones was faced with having to write her characters and insert them into a virtually completed story, so she has told her part — as Stella — in the first person too. I take my hat off to her, she did it all brilliantly. Many readers are unaware of who wrote what. But seriously, I don’t think too much about such things. I just write and see what happens.

What excites you about the Ms. Birdsong Investigates series?

From the moment her name came into my head I have been excited. It popped up from nowhere and I knew everything about her before I sat at the computer. She has undergone a couple of re-writes. I’ve tried to blend the grit of an MI5 Intelligence Office with her new life in a rural Oxfordshire village where she is going out of her mind with boredom until a local woman goes missing.

As I’ve adapted her story I’ve become more and more convinced she is a fresh voice; a heroine for the 21st century. She is an unusual protagonist, strong but also caring when she allows herself to be. The former MI5 officer is intelligent, quick thinking, she is well educated, and she speaks five languages. Lavinia Birdsong is a physical woman; she is a great shot with firearms, she is a martial arts practitioner, but is always worried about her weight. She is not over-weight, just worried she might become overweight. I love that she is human, has foibles – always about to go on a diet, but never quite managing to. She has a dry sense of humour and fights to keep the grin off her face at times. But she does not suffer fools gladly, so woe-betide anyone crossing her.

Lavinia loves men. She cannot help herself, yet, all the time she was with her now former lover, MI6 Intelligence Officer, Michael Dante, she was faithful, perhaps not mentally faithful, but physically she behaved herself. She is susceptible to a man with a twinkle in his eye, who has an aura of danger about him. I think there is a lot of scope to play with her personality and character in my series.

Ms. B as she is known to the locals of Ampney Parva, loves music – rock music especially – and fine wines. She has a case delivered monthly and worries what people might think when she leaves the empties for the bin men. I love this about her and writing her has been a joy. As my series unfolds I think readers will love her too. She is unpredictable and full of humour, but she is also a patriot, and she cares deeply about England – Britain – and her life has been dedicated to keeping our country and peoples safe. Now she is retired, she finds she cannot stop wanting to serve and protect.

I can imagine so many scenarios for stories about her and her mission to get back into the MI5 family. I have books two and three underway and there could be more if my agent can find a publisher willing to take her on. I hope so, she needs to see the light of day. Those who have read her along the way have been excited about her and tell me she is a breath of fresh air. She has elements of being somewhat of a cosy mystery crime read with the grittier, harder elements of a serious thriller. Just when you think you are reading a village mystery, you find you are actually in the midst of a thriller. I love that, and I hope any future readers will too.

In case you are wondering what Matryoshka means – they are the little Russian dolls which sit inside of each other.

***

There is a taster of Ms Birdsong Investigates in my crime collection of short stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts, it is the last story in the collection and is called Undercover.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Undercover-Crime-Shorts-Jane-Risdon/dp/0359397832

Thanks so much, Jenny, for letting me hold forth about my latest novel and character, Ms Lavinia Birdsong. Although she is not in print yet, there is a lot I can reveal about her without any spoilers.

If any of your readers is interested to know a little more about MI5, MI6, Ms B and much more, they can join her in her own secret Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/msbirdsonginvestigates

And she has also got her own page on my website where they can find her CV, her photo gallery, and lots more: https://janerisdon.com/ms-birdsong-investigates/

Bio

Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent), and author of ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies and writing for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February 2020 Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com and The Brian ‘Hammer’ Jackson Radio Show.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers.  They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.

In December 2020 Jane signed with Linda Langton of Langton’s Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at: www.langtonsinternational.com

LINKS

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

Only One Woman: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07ZR9QZQN

Website: https://janerisdon.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5831801.Jane_Risdon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-risdon

Thanks for stopping by today Jane. Ms Birdsong sounds great.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Lines with Carol McGrath: The Damask Rose

This week’s Opening Lines come from Carol McGrath’s brand new historical novel, The Damask Rose. It forms part of her ongoing #blogtour.

Published today – The Damask Rose is a must for all fans of medieval fiction. 

Sit back and enjoy the first 500 words.

Over to you Carol…

The Damask Rose. Today, 15th April, is Publication Day, so it is really special. Here is the burb for The Damask Rose and a few comments made by other writers who enjoyed it. I hope you will enjoy the blurb and extract that follows:

Blurb

In 1266 Eleanor of Castile, adored wife of the Crown Prince of England, is still only a princess when she is held hostage during the brutal Barons’ Rebellion, and her baby daughter dies. Scarred by privation, a bitter Eleanor swears revenge on those who would harm her family- and vows never to let herself be vulnerable again.

As she rises to become Queen, Eleanor keeps Olwen – a trusted herbalist- who tried to save her daughter-by her side.  But it is dangerous to be friendless in a royal household, and as the court sets out on crusade, Olwen and Eleanor discover then that the true battle for England may not be a matter of swords and lances but one fanned by whispers and spies.

 

Fascinating . . . Brings to life one of the most determined and remarkable queens of the medieval world’ K. J. MAITLAND, author of The Drowned City

* ‘Completely engrossed me from the start . . . A wonderful read‘ NICOLA CORNICK, author of The Forgotten Sister

* ‘Excels at sweeping the reader away on an engrossing journey . . . Great storytelling and superb research‘ JANE JOHNSON, author of Court of Lions

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter 1

Windsor Castle

June 21st 1264

On the feast of St John, Lady Eleanor, Lord Edward’s wife, watched the forest from the castle’s lower battlements. Smoke from rebel camp fires twisted above the tree-line. The rebels had plundered her park, hunted stags in her forest, lit fires and cooked her venison. Occasionally a whiff drifted her way reminding her that soon the castle would run out of food. She sighed knowing she would have to consult with Master Thomas, her steward, as to how long they could survive without surrender, before they starved.  Earl Simon’s deputy, Hugh Bigod of Norfolk, had positioned his troops everywhere. They were hidden by willows hanging over the river banks; they were concealed in meadows within corn stalks; they camped amongst beech trees in the king’s deer park.

She saw movement on the edge of the forest. A moment later a rider emerged, galloping along the track towards the castle moat.  She shaded her brow. There had been many messengers demanding she gave up the castle but she always sent them away. She edged along the battlements until she reached a point directly above the gatehouse. There was something familiar about this horseman. Another horseman, a squire she imagined, broke from the trees holding aloft a fluttering pennant. She drew breath. Rather than displaying Montfort’s fork-tailed lion this long curling flag displayed the King’s leopards, gold and silver embroidery glinting in the sun. Her heart began to beat faster, pumping at her chest. It could be a messenger from her husband.

Time stilled as if the scene below was painted into a psalter. Her mantle billowed out and her short veil was nearly blown from her head by a sudden breeze. The castle rooks roosted in trees making loud mewing sounds like babies crying. Bells rang for Vespers. Directly below, her ladies trailed into the chapel, miniature figures with bowed heads and clasped hands. She should attend Vespers since it was the feast of St John, but she remained where she was, watching the rider horse clip clopping along the path competing with the rooks’ unsettling caws.

The knight slowed as he approached the moat and gatehouse, halted, dismounted and removed his helmet. Her eyes fixed on his shock of red hair. The Earl of Gloucester! She knew him well from the days before the barons’ rebellion. If Earl Simon was the devil, Gilbert of Gloucester was Satan’s helper. Tears of disappointment welled up behind her eyes.

Earl Gilbert tugged a scroll from his mantle and with one hand still holding his reins he held it up to the gatehouse guards. Ribbons dangled from a seal. Anger replaced disappointment. If this was a trick, she would have Simon de Montfort’s son, her prisoner, hung from the battlements.

She looked up at the highest range of battlements. ‘Raise your bows,’ she ordered archers positioned above her. ‘Bring Earl Simon’s son out.’ She pointed to the knight below. ‘Gloucester is not to be trusted. Others may…

You can find out what happens next by buyingThe Damask Rose. It is available from all good retailers, including Amazon – tinyurl.com/dk2att32

Queen Eleanor’s Garden, Winchester

Carol McGrath Bio

Following a first degree in English, History and Russian Studies, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in English from University of London. The Handfasted Wife was shortlisted for the Romantic novel of the Year. The Woman in the Shadows, a best-selling historical novel about Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Henry VIII’s statesman Thomas Cromwell, was republished by Headline in 2020.  The She-Wolf Queen Trilogy features Ailenor of Provence, Eleanor of Castile and Isabella of France. Carol writes Historical non-fiction for Pen & Sword and Historical fiction for Headline Accent.  Find Carol on her web-site www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk. Links to Twitter, Facebook and my monthly newsletter are all there.

Thank you, Jenny, for hosting my publication day post.

Happy publication day, Carol.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Page 1 of 59

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén