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.
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 …
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.
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.
You can buy The Retreat from all good retailers, including:
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.
Many thanks for joining me today, Karen.
Happy reading, everyone.