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

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Opening Lines: Her Scandalous Suitor by Rachel Brimble

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

Thanks for hosting me today, Jenny!

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

BLURB

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

Then everything changed.

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

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

FIRST 500 WORDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

BIO:

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

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

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

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Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

OUT NOW: Not That Kind of Witch by Lucy Felthouse

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, witch.

Been out flying on your broomstick?

What’s bubbling in your cauldron?

You gonna turn us into toads?

Did your ancestors get burned at the stake?

Where’s your black cat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay. Go ahead.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Bio:

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

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s what you do:

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

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

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

Have a lovely weekend.

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines: The Poster by James Marshall

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

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

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

Over to you James… 

Blurb

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

When survival is everything, is everyone an enemy?

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Opening 500 words of The Poster

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

‘Get a fucking move on,’ Swales said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Ready?’ Swales said.

Alek nodded.

‘Go!’ Swales jumped over the wall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swales turned and winked at Alek.

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

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

 

Bio

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

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

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

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

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day: Robin Hood Style

Valentines

To celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little of Romancing Robin Hood– my part romance/part medieval mystery novel- with you.

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance is based on the life of Dr Grace Harper, a medieval history lecturer with a major Robin Hood obsession. So much so, that instead of writing a textbook on medieval life, Grace is secretly writing a novella about a fourteenth century girl called Mathilda, who gets mixed up with a real outlaw family of the day, the Folvilles. As you read Grace’s story, you can read the medieval mystery she is writing alongside!

The problem is, Grace is so embroiled in her work and passion for outlaws, that real life is passing her by.

RH- E Flynn

With her wedding approaching fast, Grace’s best friend Daisy can’t help wishing a similar happiness to her own for her Robin Hood loving friend…

Extract

…Daisy hadn’t grown up picturing herself floating down the aisle in an over-sequinned ivory frock, nor as a doting parent, looking after triplets and walking a black Labrador. So when, on an out-of-hours trip to the local vet’s surgery she’d met Marcus and discovered that love at first sight wasn’t a myth, it had knocked her for six.

She’d been on a late-night emergency dash to the surgery with an owl a neighbour had found injured in the road. Its wing had required a splint, and it was too big a job for only one pair of hands. Daisy had been more than a bit surprised when the locum vet had stirred some long-suppressed feeling of interest in her, and even more amazed when that feeling had been reciprocated.

It was all luck, sheer luck. Daisy had always believed that anyone meeting anybody was down to two people meeting at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, while both feeling precisely the right amount of chemistry. The fact that any couples existed at all seemed to Daisy to be one of the greatest miracles of humanity.

She pictured Grace, tucked away in her mad little office only living in the twenty-first century on a part-time basis. Daisy had long since got used to the fact that her closest friend’s mind was more often than not placed firmly in the 1300s. Daisy wished Grace would finish her book. It had become such a part of her. Such an exclusive aim that nothing else seemed to matter very much. Even the job she used to love seemed to be a burden to her now, and Daisy sensed that Grace was beginning to resent the hours it took her away from her life’s work. Maybe if she could get her book over with – get it out of her system – then Grace would stop living in the wrong timeframe.

Daisy knew Grace appreciated that she never advised her to find a bloke, settle down, and live ‘happily ever after,’ and she was equally grateful Grace had never once suggested anything similar to her. Now she had Marcus, however, Daisy had begun to want the same contentment for her friend, and had to bite her tongue whenever they spoke on the phone; something that happened less and less these days.

Grace’s emails were getting shorter too. The long paragraphs detailing the woes of teaching students with an ever-decreasing intelligence had blunted down to, ‘You ok? I’m good. Writing sparse. See you soon. Bye G x’

The book. That in itself was a problem. Grace’s publishers and colleagues, Daisy knew, were expecting an academic tome. A textbook for future medievalists to ponder over in the university libraries of the world. And, in time, that was exactly what they were going to get, but not yet, for Grace had confided to Daisy that this wasn’t the only thing she was working on, and her textbook was coming a poor third place to work and the other book she couldn’t seem to stop herself from writing.

‘Why,’ Grace had forcefully expounded on their last meeting, ‘should I slog my guts out writing a book only a handful of bored students and obsessive freaks like myself will ever pick up, let alone read?’

As a result, Grace was writing a novel, ‘A semi-factual novel,’ she’d said, ‘a story which will tell any student what they need to know about the Folville family and their criminal activities – which bear a tremendous resemblance to the stories of a certain famous literary outlaw! – and hopefully promote interest in the subject for those who aren’t that into history without boring them to death.’

It sounded like a good idea to Daisy, but she also knew, as Grace did, that it was precisely the sort of book academics frowned upon, and she was worried about Grace’s determination to finish it. Daisy thought it would be more sensible to concentrate on one manuscript at a time, and get the dry epic that everyone was expecting out of the way first. Perhaps it would have been completed by now if Grace could focus on one project at a time, rather than it currently being a year in the preparation without a final result in sight. Daisy suspected Grace’s boss had no idea what she was really up to. After all, she was using the same lifetime of research for both manuscripts. She also had an underlying suspicion that subconsciously Grace didn’t want to finish either the textbook or the novel; that her friend was afraid to finish them. After all, what would she fill her hours with once they were done?

Daisy’s mobile began to play a tinny version of Nellie the Elephant. She hastily plopped a small black guinea pig, which she’d temporarily called Charcoal, into a run with his numerous friends, and fished her phone from her dungarees pocket.

‘Hi, Marcus.’

‘Hi honey, you OK?’

‘Just delivering the tribe to their outside quarters, then I’m off to face the horror that is dress shopping.’

Her future husband laughed, ‘You’ll be fine. You’re just a bit rusty, that’s all.’

‘Rusty! I haven’t owned a dress since I went to parties as a small child. Thirty-odd years ago!’

‘I don’t understand why you don’t go with Grace at the weekend. It would be easier together wouldn’t it?’

Daisy sighed, ‘I’d love to go with her, but I’ll never get her away from her work more than once this month, and I’ve yet to arrange a date for her to buy a bridesmaid outfit.’

‘Well, good luck, babe. I’m off to rob some bulls of their manhood.’

Daisy giggled, ‘Have fun. Oh, why did you call by the way?’

‘Just wanted to hear your voice, nothing else.’

‘Oh cute – ta.’

‘Idiot! Enjoy shopping.’

As she clicked her battered blue mobile shut and slid it back into her working clothes, Daisy thought of Grace again. Perhaps she should accidentally invite loads of single men to the wedding to tempt her friend with. The trouble was, unless they wore Lincoln Green, and carried a bow and quiver of arrows, Daisy very much doubted whether Grace would even notice they were there…

If that extract has whetted your appetite for more, Romancing Robin Hood is available in paperback, and e-formats from all good retailers- including…

Kindle –
(Available via KDP for those who subscribe)
Paperback-

 

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Jenny x

 

Frost Falls at Christmas

I love a story set over the festive season, so when I discovered that the first in #ThePottingShed #series was to be published in time for Christmas, it was the only excuse I needed to include a festive celebration within the novel.

While Frost Falls at The Potting Shed doesn’t cover Christmas Day itself, it does include the run up to Christmas, and all that entails when running a plant growing business.

Frost Falls at The Potting Shed

Blurb

It has always been Maddie Willand’s dream to take over her father’s plant nursery. But after his sudden death, she is devastated to discover that she might lose The Potting Shed forever.

Maddie’s bossy older sister, Sabi, is joint owner of the nursery, and she’s convinced that the best thing for both of them would be to sell up.

Determined to keep the business going, Maddie can’t afford any distractions, but staying focused might be harder than she thinks. Especially when a major garden centre chain puts in an offer for the land – and her search for legal advice throws her into the path of attractive lawyer Ed…

As frost begins to fall over The Potting Shed, will Maddie find the strength to save her father’s legacy and open herself up to new beginnings?

Here’s a little snippet of The Potting Shed at Christmas time.

It’s morning – Maddie is thinking back to the evening before, when she and her sister, Sabi, decorated their small shop…

By the time they’d left it, the shop smelt like Christmas. Packets of star-shaped ginger biscuits lay next to a basket of cinnamon sticks. Next to these, a trug of locally made Christmas puddings — which Maddie hadn’t realised Petra had ordered — waited for their big moment on the festive dinner table. On the opposite side of the shop, an old fire bucket was filled with logs, around which Jake had placed small sacks of firewood to buy.

Mini olive trees, resplendent in silver and gold terracotta pots, lined the far wall, beneath the seed racks – all of which had been restocked – the lowest rung dedicated to seeds for children. A string had been hung across the ceiling, on which were draped individually designed Christmas cards showing every festive scene imaginable, from jolly snowmen to biblical nativities.

‘All that’s missing are wreaths and garlands.’ Sabi linked arms with her sister. ‘And I flatly refused to let Petra order any of those. I’d have made some if I had time, but sadly…’

Maddie laughed. ‘If you’d managed to knock up some wreaths and garlands as well as a grotto, and sort the market, I’d have started to think some sort of magic was at work here.’

‘Well,’ Sabi grinned, ‘I’ve never been averse to a Christmas miracle.’

‘It might take a miracle to make our money back on this, Sab. I hadn’t realised you and Petra had ordered in so much stock.’ Maddie rearranged a coil of tinsel that had escaped from its basket by the door.

‘It might, or it might be fine.’

***

With the memory of her sister’s optimism echoing in her ears, Maddie decided to head straight to the shop once she was up, in the hope that the festive atmosphere they’d created would bolster her mood for the day ahead.

Opening her curtains, she offered up muttered thanks. The rain had stopped, and a weak sun was highlighting a light frost that hung across the nursery. Maddie shuddered at the drop in the external temperature, wrapping her arms around her pyjamaed chest, and couldn’t help but admire the glisten of silver that tipped the Christmas trees and the gravelled paths….

 

You can buy a copy of Frost Falls at The Potting Shed from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Nook, Waterstones and all good retailers. It is available as a paperback, ebook or as an audiobook.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines with Karen King: The Retreat

This week I’m welcoming the brilliant, Karen King, to my blog with the #openinglines of her brand new thriller, The Retreat.

Over to you Karen…

What gave me the idea for The Retreat

The extremes people will go to for revenge amazes me, the newspapers are full of stories of the dark and devious acts people have done as revenge for being spurned or for imagined or real grievances so I thought this would make a good premise for a novel.

As for the setting, I’ve set a few romance novels in Spain, where I now live, and thought it would be interesting to set a psychological thriller there too. After all, a sprawling white villa, surrounded by orange, lemon and olive trees, with a sparkling blue pool halfway up the mountains would be the last place anyone would expect danger, wouldn’t it? The peaceful setting would be a great contrast to the darkness of the events that take place there. I chose a wellness retreat, the whole ethos of wellness, mindfulness and relaxation luring the reader into thinking it was safe – but someone has come to the retreat for revenge! I hope the reader has fun guessing which of the guests it is.

BLURB

I watch my best friend and the way she lays a hand on my partner’s arm, throwing me a knowing glance. I haven’t seen her for so long. She knows my darkest secret. Is she about to blow up the perfect life I’ve created?

My partner José and I have poured everything into opening this rustic farmhouse retreat nestled high in the Spanish mountains. Finally we’re ready to welcome our first guests.

But a cold chill comes over me when I recognise Saskia. She’s part of my old life, the one I made sure to leave behind, and that José knows nothing about. Saskia knows everything about me – even the terrible secret I’ve carried for so long. She’s exposed me once before. Is she here to do it again?

She swears all she wants is for us to be friends again and she’s being so sweet, helping out whenever she can. Maybe she really is trying to make amends. But when I see that our beautiful water fountain is stained a deep red I’m certain it was her. She’s here for revenge.

Then I find the body floating in the pool. My stomach drops as I realise it can’t have been Saskia – because she was with me.

I’m in a nightmare. Someone is determined to destroy everything I love. But who are they, and how far are they willing to go? And will I be able to stop them before it’s too late?

A totally unputdownable psychological thriller packed with jaw-dropping twists. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Mark Edwards and K.L. Slater.

FIRST 500 WORDS …

Prologue

I’m here. At last.

The warm air hits me as I step out of the minibus and I’m immediately struck by the beauty of the sprawling white villa nestled in the Spanish mountains. It looks so peaceful, blue skies, luscious green leaved palm trees, the song of cicadas filling the air. I can’t see if from here, but I know that there is a sparkling blue pool at the back of the house surrounded by beautiful fruit trees. I’ve pored over every inch of the photos you proudly display on your Facebook page.

I gaze around at the other guests. There are six of us, all come for five days of total relaxation. And there you are, your arms wrapped around each other, looking so happy. This is your dream come true and you didn’t care who you trampled on to achieve it.

Your eyes fall on me and there is no guilt in them as you smile briefly then move on to greet the next guest. The bubbly pot of anger simmering inside me burns brighter and stronger. I’ve thought about what you did for so long – years – imagining my revenge. You took everything from me. You cruelly destroyed my life then built yourself a perfect one.  Look at you, you don’t have a care in the world.

Well, you soon will. I’m going to make you pay for what you did.

Chapter One

Now

Her eyes scanned the room, looking for something to use to protect herself, pausing as she spotted the poker by the log fire. That would have to do. A few minutes later, holding the rod of cold metal in her hands, she opened the back door and stepped outside. The night air was cool and the velvety blackness surrounded her like a cloak. It was still. Quiet. Too quiet. She paused for a moment, peering into the darkness, ears strained for any sound, the poker clenched tightly by her side. She would use it if she had to, she wasn’t going down without a fight. She gazed up at the handful of stars and the sliver of moon hanging like a hammock over the pool. She could do with a full moon to light up the sky tonight, she could barely see in front of her. Taking her phone out of her pocket, she switched on the torch then slowly walked down the steps guided by the small beam of light.

She was halfway down the steps when she heard a loud splash. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as a chill ran through her. What was that? She couldn’t see the pool clearly enough from here, not in the dark, her phone torch wasn’t strong enough to light more than a few metres in front of her. She paused, heart thudding, as she listened for the splashes indicating that someone was swimming across the pool. There were none. It was deadly quiet.

Too quiet…

***

You can buy The Retreat from all good retailers, including:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B0CD2J9K41author

BIO

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. Currently published by Bookouture and Headline, Karen writes about the light and dark of relationships. Her fifth psychological thriller, The Retreat, was published on 13th October, and her eleventh romantic novel, The Spanish Wedding Disaster, was published in June 2022.
Karen has also had 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines published. Her thrillers The Mother In Law, The Perfect Stepmother and The Stranger in my Bed and her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became International Amazon bestsellers.
Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

Contact Links
LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/KarenKing

Many thanks for joining me today, Karen.

Happy reading, everyone.

Jenny x

 

 

Tiny Taster: Another Glass of Champagne

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

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

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

Blurb

A warm-hearted, contemporary tale about a group of friends living in a small corner of busy London, by bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Fortysomething Amy is shocked and delighted to discover she s expecting a baby not to mention terrified! Amy wants best friend Jack to be godfather, but he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack finally reappears, he s full of good intentions but his new business plan could spell disaster for the beloved Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and ruin a number of old friendships…

Meanwhile his love life is as complicated as ever and yet when he swears off men for good, Jack meets someone who makes him rethink his priorities…but is it too late for a fresh start?

 Author Kit has problems of her own: just when her career has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write and there s a deadline looming, plus two headstrong kids to see through their difficult teenage years…will she be able to cope?

Extract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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

A Tiny Taster: Another Cup of Coffee

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

Another Cup of Coffee Blurb

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

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

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

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

***

Tiny taster

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

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

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

 

***

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

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

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

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

NEWS: New novel on the way…

No sooner has the latest #thepottingshed novel been unleashed upon you, when up I pop again, waving the flag for my next venture.

Summer at Sea Glass Cove

All I can tell you for now, is that my 41st solo book is a standalone read which is due to be published next year (around March/April time).

Set on the Dorset coast, it combines many of my favourite things – museums, the Jurassic coast, archaeology and, of course, friendships. (There might be a few cups of coffee and the odd cup of tea drunk as well!)

The main character is called Lauren – and although I’m sure you’ll love her – I suspect the star of the show will be Shark, the cat…

Stay tuned! The the blurb and cover release aren’t far way!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

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