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

Category: Opening Lines Blog Page 1 of 14

Opening Lines with Karen King: The Spanish Wedding Disaster

This week I’m delighted to be bringing you the opening lines from Karen King’s new novel, The Spanish Wedding Disaster. It sounds fabulous.

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Some people are romantics. Some aren’t. When Sophie and Maddie are summoned to a mysterious, top-secret meeting by their best friend Kate’s partner, and told that he’s planning to whisk Kate away for a surprise wedding in Gibraltar, it’s immediately clear that bubbly florist Sophie is a total romantic. And that freewheeling, purple-haired Maddie is not.

Soon, Maddie finds herself reluctantly organising venues, planners and ceremonies; trying not to think of her own memories of Andalucía, and those she’s lost touch with there. Meanwhile Sophie’s hoping this dreamy gesture might spur on her own boyfriend to similar plans . . . and absolutely not thinking at all about Kate’s gorgeous brother-in-law-to-be.

But Kate’s got no idea what’s going on. And as the stress piles up and the group jet off to the sunny south, it seems it’s not just Kate who might get a surprise in Spain – one that could change everything .

FIRST 500 WORDS

‘Maddie!’ Sophie shouted, as she spotted her best friend about to go into the café where they’d arranged to meet, recognising her instantly even though her shoulder-length hair was now bright purple rather than the luminous green it had been the last time they’d met. Sophie never knew what colour hair Maddie would turn up with, or what colour eyes for that matter. Her friend had glasses with a variety of frames and also often wore contact lenses, though not always the clear kind that showed her natural hazel eyes, but turquoise, honey, pearl ones –  and once she even turned up with tiger eyes.

Maddie turned at the sound of Sophie’s voice, her hair blowing in the March wind as she moved to the side of the door and waited for Sophie to catch up.

Now she’d turned around, Sophie could see that she was wearing huge, red-framed glasses today. Only Maddie would be able to wear such a rainbow of colours – a three-quarter length blue, red and white striped coat over orange and black striped jeggings tucked into black Doc Martens boots decorated with hand-painted red roses – and pull it off. Sophie grinned and ‘increased her pace, the wind biting her cheeks. It was bitterly cold today and she was glad of the warmth of the fur-trimmed hood of the cream parka she was wearing, over a thick pastel blue jumper, indigo jeans and black boots.

Maddie was shivering slightly, hands thrust deep into her coat pockets as she waited for Sophie to join her.

‘It’s so good to see you again. It’s been ages!’ Maddie wrapped Sophie in a big hug.

Whenever they met, no matter how long had elapsed, it always felt like they’d only seen each other yesterday, Sophie thought as she returned the hug. ‘I know. I don’t know where the time goes.’

‘Let’s go inside and have a quick catch-up while we wait for Steve.’ Maddie pushed open the door of the café and scanned the room, her gaze resting on an empty table for four by the window. ‘That’s perfect.’

Sophie followed her, wondering what new tales Maddie had to tell. Her work as a publicist for a media agency meant a lot of travelling and meeting interesting people, whereas Sophie worked in a local florist, and while she loved the job it wasn’t as exciting as Maddie’s – something that Sophie was very pleased about. She preferred a quiet life. She was happy living with her boyfriend Glenn in their one-bedroomed flat in Worcester near the river, but she still enjoyed listening to Maddie’s tales.

The café was waitress service, so they both pulled out a chair and sat down on one side of the rectangular black table, leaving room for Steve to sit opposite.

‘I wish Kate was coming too, we haven’t seen her for a while,’ Sophie said, hanging her bag on the back of her chair. She left her coat on, still feeling a bit chilly even though the café…

***

Buy Link: http://smarturl.it/thespanishwedding

BIO

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. The Spanish Wedding Disaster is her twelfth published romantic novel. Her third psychological thriller The Mother In Law is out in July, and a fourth one in February 2023. She has also had 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines published. Her thrillers, 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. 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.

https://linktr.ee/KarenKing

Many thanks for sharing your opening lines today, Karen.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Anna Legat : Cause of Death

It’s Opening Line’s time! This week, I’m welcoming Anna Legat to my site – as part of her #blogtour – with the first 500 words of her brand new  mystery – Cause of Death.

Over to you Anna…

Cause of Death is the third instalment in my cosy crime series, The Shires Mysteries. I enjoyed writing it immensely – it was good fun and a true labour of love. It could be because of my affinity with and affection for my two protagonists, Maggie and Sam, or maybe because of its light-hearted and humorous tone, but whatever the reason I was swept into the story from the off. So, I am delighted that I can share the opening lines of Cause of Death here on Jenny’s blog.

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Maggie and Sam’s crime-busting exploits continue in Cause of Death, book 3 in The Shires Mysteries.

All is not well in the village. The local meadows have been the pride of Bishops Well for hundreds of years, but now they are facing the sharp blades of developers. The landowner is a rich and reclusive author who is happy to see them destroyed, but the villagers – including Sam Dee and Maggie Kaye – are fighting back.

Until, that is, someone decides to silence one of their number permanently.

As Maggie and Sam soon discover, there is more than a quick buck to be made in the developers’ plans. There are age-old secrets and personal vendettas that could have deadly repercussions in Bishops Well today.

With Sam’s legal expertise and Maggie’s… well, Maggie-ness, they delve into the past, determined to unearth the truth. And, as sparks begin to fly, could there finally be something more between this sleuthing duo?

FIRST 500 WORDS-

The full moon was their silent accomplice – it shone brightly, illuminating the finer detail of the grand forgery they were carrying out on the ground. It wasn’t an easy job. The work had to be conducted on the uneven surface of the south-facing slope of a hill which by day was home to a herd of Friesian cows. A hill covered in cowpats was like a minefield, especially to those who had made the unfortunate choice of sandals for footwear. Old cowpats pretended to be dormant, but once stirred they could explode in a bouquet of unpleasant odour. That became evident when Rumpole, Vera Hopps-Wood’s Irish wolfhound, was detected smeared with cow excrement and stinking to high heaven. He appeared as happy as a pig in . . . mud, but Vera was inconsolable. No one showed her any sympathy. She should not have brought her pet to work. Forgery was no walk in the park.

The first part of the operation was the painstaking removal of topsoil together with all vegetation and the offending cowpats. That task had been conducted under the watchful eye of the designer and project manager – Maggie Kaye. The whole undertaking was her idea. The loosely organised but fiercely proud community of Bishops Well, in the shape of the Bishops Well Archaeological Association, had rallied round, as they usually did.

Sam Dee had had his reservations, but it was that or desecrating Harry Wotton’s wheat fields with crop circles. He had gone with the lesser evil. At least the injured party would be harder to establish. The ownership of the hill was disputed and claims to it were laid by three warring parties: the folk of Bishops Well, local magnate Lord Weston-Jones, and the parish of St John the Baptist.

By midnight the works were in full swing. The forgers were careful to stay within the outline of the shape, delineated earlier by the best art students recruited by Maggie and fellow teacher Cherie Hornby from Bishops Ace Academy. The labour distribution had been thoughtfully planned: the fairer sex was engaged in the finer art of scraping off the soil and staying within the lines (that required attention to detail and a steady hand) while the men carried bucketfuls of soil, grass, and the ever-present cow muck, which required little more than brute strength, to the top of the hill. There they distributed it evenly so that no one would detect it in the morning.

‘If Alec knew what I was getting up to, he’d have to divorce me,’ Vanessa Scarfe whimpered as she shovelled a stubborn tuft of grass out of existence. ‘I had to say I was staying at Vera’s tonight!’ Her chubby cheeks reflected the ghostly moonlight in all its fullness. Crime didn’t become her. And it shouldn’t – after all, she was the wife of Detective Chief Superintendent Scarfe, a pillar of the community and a man beyond reproach. He couldn’t afford to be linked to a common trespasser …

You can buy a copy of Cause of Death from…

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3: A gripping and unputdownable English cosy mystery eBook : Legat, Anna: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3 eBook by Anna Legat – 9781786159892 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

Cause of Death by Anna Legat, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3 by Anna Legat | Waterstones

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3: A gripping and unputdownable English cosy mystery by Anna Legat | WHSmith

BIO

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications in New Zealand. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

www.annalegat.com

Twitter @LegatWriter

Facebook @AnnaLegatAuthor

Instagram @LegatAuthor

Many thanks for your opening lines, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Happy Birthday to Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

Book three in the #MillGrange series is a year old today!

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange.

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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…

 

Set in the beautiful Exmoor countryside, on the border of Devon and Somerset, Spring Blossoms, continues the story of Thea, Shaun, Sam, Tina, Mable and Bert – as well as Helen and Tom, who were newcomers to the house in Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange.

Here’s the prologue…

Helen cradled the stone in her palm. The size of a cookie, grey in colour, it was jagged on one side and smooth on the other. Once upon a time it had been part of the bedrock; a tiny fragment of the geology that had formed the basis of the village of Upwich and its surrounds. Now, however, it felt like the most precious possession she’d ever owned.

She hadn’t had the heart to tell Dylan that it wasn’t an exciting find from the Roman fortlet they were excavating in Mill Grange’s garden. The five-year-old had been so thrilled to be able to help his dad, Tom, when they’d peeled the tarpaulin off the archaeological site after a frosty winter, that when he’d picked up the stone and run to her, his face wide with pleasure, she’d held it with a reverence normally reserved for the crown jewels.

The boy’s eyes had got wider and wider as she’d told him about the land beneath Exmoor, how it had formed, and how the stone he’d found was part of that.

Helen had been conscious of Tom’s eyes on her as his son had sat on her knee and listened with rapt attention to every word she said.

Laying the stone back on her desk, tucked neatly in the corner of the store room, Helen sighed. She had come to Mill Grange to take a break from the pressures of her management job. She had not come to fall in love – especially not with Tom – a man with a horrendous track record with woman – and a son…

You don’t have to have read Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange or Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, to enjoy Spring Blossoms, although you’d probably get more from the story if you have. Spring Blossoms is then followed by Winter Fires at Mill Grange.

If you would like to buy a copy of Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, you can purchase a copy from all good retailers, including…

Many thanks for dropping by today,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Morwenna Blackwood: Underrated

I’m delighted to be welcoming Morwenna Blackwood back to my blog today, with the first 500 words from her brand new novel, Underrated.

Underrated is the third novel in the Glasshouse series. The novels stand alone as stories, but they are interconnected. In Underrated, we get Will’s version of events and find out why you should never underestimate a friend…

BLURB

I stand as close as I can to the Liver Building without looking proper weird and tip my head back. My eyes can’t focus properly, but I can make out a turquoise shape right at the top, soI mouth ’iya to Bella. I’m a bit soft on the Liver Birds. They’re 300-odd feet up in the air, so they should be able to see everything, but they’re chained down…

A story of the far-reaching effects of unrequited love and drug (ab)use, Underrated follows five lads who are just trying to make things better for themselves. In Liverpool and on the south Devon coast, their lives entangle as they turn to cocaine.

While some people take drugs to escape their circumstances, others deal drugs to escape theirs. But is escape ever really an option?

First 500 words of Underrated

It’s like tinnitus.

The silence with Mum and Dad in the front room is deafening and all-encompassing. Dad’s pretending to read the Sunday paper, and Mum’s pretending to read the magazine that came with it. I’m scanning the free paper for cheap, second-hand cars, but the pressure in the room renders me incapable of it, so instead I stare out of the patio doors at a load of crows that are hopping about on the lawn. There’s that phrase – you could have cut the tension with a knife. In all honesty, I wish one of them would cut the other with a knife – or me, or, better still, darling Dominic – because then it would be over with. The atmosphere in here is so tense that it’s given me a blinding headache. I stand, deciding to retreat up to my cave, and the sudden movement makes the crows take flight. I wish I could just fly away. Why the fuck do we all go on with this charade?! I can feel myself going mental; at some point I’ll crack and then I’ll take things into my own hands and force a change. Because this is absurd. It’s pathetic. It’s fucking killing me!

My bedroom – I think of it as my cave – is small; a dark box with a north-facing window. Even though I’m the oldest, I got last pick – or rather no pick – of the bedrooms, but mine does have a built-in wardrobe, so that, apparently, makes everything all right. Anyway, this room is all I’ve got, so it’s my refuge.

Though I want to slam it, I close my door quietly. It doesn’t matter how loud I am – no one notices me, so I don’t bother any more. I stare out of my bedroom window onto what is probably the most uninspiring view known to man: the length of our parquet-paved cul-de-sac, with its widely spaced four-bedroom houses and their uniform lawns that run flat from the house to the kerb. All the front gardens sport the designer slash that the housing developers refer to as ‘landscaping’, which is basically a strip of clay soil planted with hardy shrubs and a rowan sapling that wears a wire mesh dress. Outside every door are the generic pansies and lobelia in pots, in varying states of health. And then there’s the big, posh house – the former show home – at the open end of the cul-de-sac, blocking out the rolling hills and anything else that might be behind it, except the main road that connects our estate to everything and everywhere else in this shitty little town, which is basically nothing and nowhere.

I can hear my younger sister, Sally, in the kitchen; her overbright voice chirping on about biscuits and essays, while she makes another fucking cup of tea. I want to scream at her to stop it! I grab the nearest sheet of plain A3 to me – I draw a lot, there’s stuff everywhere – and shove it up against the window…

Buy-links:

The (D)Evolution of Us – mybook.to/devolution

Glasshouse – http://mybook.to/glasshousenovel

Underrated – mybook.to/underrated

Author biog:

BIO

When she was six years old, Morwenna wrote an endless story about a frog, and hasn’t stopped writing since.

She is the author of bestselling noir psychological thrillers, The (D)Evolution of Us and Glasshouse, has an MA in Creative Writing, and can usually be found down by the sea. Her third novel, Underrated, was published by #darkstroke 14/02/22.

She often thinks about that frog.

Social media links:

www.morwennablackwoodauthor.com

www.amazon.com/author/morwennablackwood

www.facebook.com/morwennablackwood

Twitter: @MorwennaBlackw1

Instagram: morwennablackwood_

TikTok: @morwennablackwood

Many thanks Morwenna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Rachel Brimble: A Very Modern Marriage

Opening Lines time is with us once again, and this week I’m delighted to welcome my friend and fellow author, Rachel Brimble, to share the first 500 words from her latest historical romance/saga,

A Very Modern Marriage.

Over to you, Rachel…

Hi Jenny!

Thank you for having me back on your blog and giving me the chance to share the Opening Lines of my latest release A Very Modern Marriage.

This is the final instalment in the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy (all the books can be read stand alone) and tells Octavia’s story. She is one of the three women who live and work together in a brothel situated in the backstreets of the Victorian city of Bath.

In books 1 & 2 (A Widow’s Vow & Trouble For The Leading Lady), we saw Louisa and Nancy struggling to find their true life purpose while facing the world with an unshakeable determination to survive. The same is now true of Octavia.

As her friends’ lives change, Octavia realises hers must too and decides that drastic action is necessary…whatever that might mean!

BLURB:

He needs a wife…
Manchester industrialist William Rose was a poor lad from the slums who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, but in order to achieve his greatest ambitions he must become the epitome of Victorian respectability: a family man.

She has a plan…
But the only woman who’s caught his eye is sophisticated beauty Octavia Marshall, one of the notorious ladies of Carson Street. Though she was once born to great wealth and privilege, she’s hardly respectable, but she’s determined to invest her hard-earned fortune in Mr Rose’s mills and forge a new life as an entirely proper businesswoman.

They strike a deal that promises them both what they desire the most, but William’s a fool if he thinks Octavia will be a conventional married woman, and she’s very much mistaken if she thinks the lives they once led won’t follow them wherever they go.

In the third instalment of Rachel Brimble’s exciting Victorian saga series, The Ladies of Carson Street will open the doors on a thoroughly modern marriage – and William is about to get a lot more than he bargained for…

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter 1

Octavia Marshall blinked back tears as her newly married best friend stood alongside her husband outside the green arched door of Bath’s town hall. As Nancy and Francis were showered in rose petals, Octavia’s lips trembled under the strain of her forced smile, anxiety for her uncertain future tightening her chest.

She despised her selfishness. Nothing but her friends’ happiness should be at the forefront of her mind today, but she could not stop fretting about what this wedding meant for the brothel on Carson Street – for her – now that Nancy, who had worked alongside her for so long, was respectably married.

The house meant everything to Octavia. Since her harsh separation from her father several years before, she had gone from being a privileged young girl living in a beautiful home, to homeless and hawking herself on the streets. Then Louisa Hill, the owner of the Carson Street house, had found her – saved her – and their home and workplace became Octavia’s haven, her sanctuary – the people living with her there, her saving grace.

Now she feared if the brothel collapsed, she would too.

Why had she allowed herself to believe it would be her, Nancy and Louisa, side by side against the world for as long as they could work? Louisa had fallen in love with Jacob, their doorman and all-round protector, over a year before. And now Nancy was wed. Yet, the loss of Louisa’s heart to Jacob had not affected Octavia as much as Nancy’s falling in love with Francis. After all, as madam and owner of the house, it was inevitable Louisa would come to distance herself from the practicalities of the brothel in time.

But with Nancy’s wedding came her permanent departure from the house and a ticking clock in Octavia’s mind. It was only a matter of time before Louisa wanted to start a family and then the Carson Street house would close for good.

Taking a deep breath, Octavia tried her best to shake off her melancholy and walked closer to her friends. She pressed a firm kiss to Nancy’s cheek. ‘You look beautiful, darling. Absolutely beautiful.’

‘Thank you.’ Nancy’s cheeks flushed with happiness and her auburn hair, speckled with white flower buds, gleamed beneath her ivory veil. ‘I can’t quite believe a good-time girl like me is actually married.’

‘Married and expecting,’ Octavia said, as she nodded towards Nancy’s slightly curved stomach. ‘All too soon there will be a tiny Nancy or Francis running around and then where will you be?’

Nancy laughed. ‘As happy as a pig in sh—’

‘Um, darling…’ Francis raised his eyebrows. ‘Shall we head to the White Hart before your happiness bursts forth in a barrage of unfettered expletives?’

‘It’s too late to start looking down your nose at me now, Francis Carlyle,’ Nancy sniffed, her gaze soft with love even as she feigned a scowl at her new husband. ‘Like it or lump it, I’m yours for the rest of our lives. Unfettered expletives and…’

***

You can buy your copy of A Very Modern Marriage here: https://geni.us/xa9ln5

BIO:

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 25 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). In January 2022, she signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for the first book in a brand new series set in past British Royal courts.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.

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

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

Twitter: https://bit.ly/3AQvK0A

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3i49GZ3

Instagram: https://bit.ly/3lTQZbF

Many thanks for your wonderful Opening Lines, Rachel,

Happy Reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Ashley Lister: Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

I’m delighted to be welcoming Ashley Lister back to my blog today, to share the Opening Lines from his latest novel, Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

Over to you Ash…

Thank you to the awesome Jenny Kane for inviting me here today.  She genuinely remains one of my favourite writers and I feel honoured to call her a friend.  I hope she still feels the same about me after reading this blog post.

The idea for Conversations with Dead Serial Killers came to me as I was watching a TV show about psychics.  I’m neither a believer nor a disbeliever in the spirit world. I’m simply an idiot who gets drunk and is too lazy to shift away from the TV, regardless of what it’s playing.

So, there I was, watching this show with a person purporting to be a psychic, telling the viewers that they were being helped by a spirit guide and I thought, “What if that spirit guide was a dick? What if that spirit guide’s sole purpose in life (or should that be ‘in death’?) was to make things uncomfortable for the psychic they worked with?”

Whilst that’s ended up as one of the predominant themes in the story, I think it’s fair to say that Conversations with Dead Serial Killers has become something a little more than that.  I’ve tried to blend the tropes of true crime stories with a narrative about mediumship, some of the grisly and distasteful things you’d expect to find in horror stories, and a soupcon of my dark and twisted humour.

Blurb

“A clown can get away with murder.”
John Wayne Gacy, the killer clown.

Derek Turner makes his living as a psychic. But, when he makes his first genuine contact with the spirit world, it is an encounter that starts him on a pathway to holding conversations with dead serial killers.

FIRST 500 WORDS

The thing that few people appreciated about Ed Gein was his skill as a seamstress. Clive had sat through every episode of the Great British Sewing Bee and, whilst the finalists on that show invariably produced some nice-looking creations in the last episode of each series, and sometimes that was when they were working with awkward fabrics such as organza, pleated lace or chiffon, none of them had (yet) been challenged with creating something original from human skin. To Clive’s mind it was an injustice that everyone looked at Ed Gein’s work (the belt made from nipples, the lampshade made from Mary Hogan’s face, and the chairs, fully upholstered, in human skin) and all they saw was the Grand Guignol horror that came from murder, the desecration of graves, and the violation of corpses. No one appreciated the man for his craftsmanship and finesse with a needle and thread.

Clive sat back at his desk, surveying the screen that held his notes on Gein and wondering how close his latest book was to being ready for publication. There were hundreds of biographies covering Gein, describing him as the Plainfield Butcher, the Plainfield Ghoul and the Grandfather of Gore, and explaining how he had been the role model for fictional monsters such as Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Norman Bates in Robert Bloch’s Psycho, and even Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Clive’s approach to the biography had been different. Rather than go on about the lawlessness and illegality of Gein’s actions with the usual ghoulish voyeurism concerning murder, grave-robbing and skin-removal, Clive wanted to celebrate the Ed Gein that the history books had overlooked. Gein was a hard-working labourer. Gein was a loving son who aspired to be just like his mother. And Gein was a diligent researcher who had studied subjects as diverse as the Nazis, cannibalism and, if his well-thumbed copy of Grey’s Anatomy was any indicator, human biology.

Not that Gein was the only subject of the biographies he had written. Clive had published one volume on the comforting bedside manner of Dr Harold Shipman foregrounding the under-reported benevolent side of the world’s most prolific serial killer.  He had also written about the forbidden romance between Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and wanted to write about the passion that kept Fred and Rose West together.  Importantly, and it was a consistent theme throughout all of the books he was writing, Clive wanted to talk about the fact that some of these ‘notorious killers’ had managed to grow up to appear like unassuming and normal adults despite the trauma of abusive childhoods. He knew they’d grown up to appear unassuming and normal because neighbours, witnesses and others involved in testifying against these people, always described them as being ‘unassuming and normal.’

He supposed the project struck a personal chord for him because, if not for fate and circumstances, he figured he too could have been another name on the long list of serial killers who had…

***

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is currently available for Pre-Order and will be released on Valentine’s Day, 2022.

Pre-Order link: http://mybook.to/cwdsk

To find out more about Ashley Lister you can check out his website: www.ashleylister.com, his FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.lister, and Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleylister.

Huge thanks Ashley, for sharing your Opening lines today – I’m still talking to you after reading that- although I have hidden my sewing kit… just to be on the safe side. (Remembers pin cushion is on the table and dashes off)

Happy reading everyone, 

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Christmas at the Castle

This week sees the final instalment in the Opening Lines blogs for my Another Cup of…festive specials. Today, I’m sharing the first 500 words from Christmas at the Castle.

Kit is off to Scotland!

BLURB

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

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

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

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘A wonderful short story to fill your heart with warmth and really put you in the mood for Christmas

‘A feel good festive read, with Jenny Kane’s trademark coffee, friendship and gentle humour’

‘This is the perfect book for curling up on the sofa with on a winter’s afternoon. Light-hearted and feel good fun’

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

Friday November 13th

Poking her head around the door of the Gift Shop Café, Charlie gave a sigh of relief. She’d managed to arrive before Alice for once.

Selecting their usual table by the window, Charlie smiled. Just for once it was nice not to have Alice, already comfortably settled and looking perfect, watching serenely as she battled her scarf, which always managed to knot itself clumsily, and her hair, blown every which way by the wind.

Hoping this was a good omen for the discussion to come, Charlie waved a greeting to the waitress, Mel.

‘Hi, Erin, Alice isn’t here yet.’ Mel put down a large coffee on Charlie’s table, ‘I’ll bring that weird latte concoction she likes over when she arrives.’

About half of the people in Banchory knew Charlie as Erin. Ever since she’d had her first book published under the name of Erin Spencer five years ago, the local papers had made a feature of her work, and Charlie lived happily with her dual personality.

As she watched the world go by through the window, Charlie’s usual habit of filtering future plotlines through the back of her mind was replaced with wondering how to persuade Alice that they needed more people to help organise Crathes Castle’s first ever literary festival. So far it was just the two of them, and they were drowning in the number of tasks involved with making it a success rather than an embarrassing flop.

Charlie hadn’t finished rehearsing her pleas for more helpers in her head, when Alice arrived.

Waving to Mel that she needed a drink fast (the concoction that Charlie always thought of as pseudo-coffee, which consisted of a decaf coffee, soya milk, and low-sugar caramel latte syrup), Alice sat down regally and swung her long, slim, tight black denim-covered legs elegantly under the table, before pushing her designer glasses off her eyes and up into her hair, neatly pinning it away from her face. If Charlie had tried to do that without the aid of a mirror she knew there would have been tufts of her long bouncy red ringlets sticking out at all angles.

A businesswoman through and through, Alice got straight to the point. ‘Charlie, sweetie, I know you don’t like working with other people much, but if we don’t get some more help soon this festival is going to be the biggest disaster of my career.’ Without giving her stunned friend time to comment, Alice went on, ‘It’s November 13th already. Our Christmas in the Castle Literary Festival is in exactly three weeks and we need another person to help us.’

Charlie was taken aback. Even when they’d been at university together Alice had been an expert at eliciting assistance from people without them even realising that she was getting them to do what she wanted. Never before had Charlie heard her admit she needed help. Studying her friend more carefully, Charlie noticed that there were dark shadows under Alice’s eyes, hinting that…

If you’d like to see what happens next, then you can buy Christmas at the Castle from all good e-retailers or you can find it in the Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.

mybook.to/ChristmasinCastle

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

 

Opening Lines: Christmas in the Cotswolds

This week I’m continuing my Opening Lines series with with a peep at the first pages of Christmas in the Cotswolds – the second festive special in the Another Cup of… series.

Blurb

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

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

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

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

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘This is a delightful short story with that lovely Christmas feel good feeling

‘An easy festive read that will make you smile

‘Very festive short story with lovely characters. . . Cosy, ideal reading for Christmas time’

‘Perfect for the Christmas season. Heartwarming, emotional and so true for today’s hectic, manic life. One to have, keep, and enjoy!!

FIRST 500 WORDS

Prologue

December 12th

Izzie closed her eyes and counted to ten as the door of the Cotswold Arts Centre slammed shut.

There was no point in panicking. She simply didn’t have time for such luxuries if her converted church was going to be ready to host a Christmas carol concert by the renowned Cotswold Choir in nine days’ time.

Bored of being propositioned by men who weren’t remotely interested in her until they discovered she was a daughter of the gentry, Izzie had ejected the carpenter through her front door before he’d quite had time to work out just how insulting her rejection of his latest lurid suggestion was.

Now, her hasty tongue having deprived her of a desperately needed pair of tradesman’s hands, Izzie sat with a heavy thump onto the nearest pew. She knew she had to find fresh help, and fast. A task that wouldn’t be easy so close to Christmas.

‘Although,’ Izzie addressed the image of Noah, who smiled benevolently at her from his stained-glass window, as if grateful he hadn’t been smashed to pieces by the tree branch that had come through the top of the chancel and caused so much seasonal inconvenience, ‘I’m damn sure I’m not asking my mother to help out ever again!’

Reaching for the offending package of invitations that had arrived by courier first thing that morning, Izzie emptied it onto the table. The invitations were supposed to have been posted by now. As soon as she’d seen them, Izzie understood why her mother had left them to the last minute.

Unfussy, cost-effective, and with a medieval Christmas flavour in keeping with the spirit of the converted fourteenth-century church where the concert was to be held. That’s what she’d asked for. What she’d got was decadent Victorian-style gold-edged invitations which weighed so much, Izzie was sure that posting them alone would break the bank. And if that wasn’t bad enough, her mother had done the one thing that she had expressively forbidden. She’d put Izzie’s full name on the invitations.

Lady Perdita Spencer-Harris had been unable to comprehend why her daughter didn’t want to use the family name to help sales. She simply didn’t understand that Izzie wanted people to come to hear the choir for its own sake, or because they wanted to see what she’d done in her art centre; not because she was a young and single female member of the landed gentry.

Miss Isadora Spencer-Harris

cordially invites you to a magical festive evening at

The Cotswold Arts Centre, Chipping Swinton

to hear the renowned Cotswold Choir’s Christmas Carol Concert

Saturday 21st December

7 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. start

£25 per ticket

Refreshments provided

RSVP by 18th December to Harris Park

Wrapping her stripy woollen scarf more tightly around her neck, Izzie breathed warm air over her cold fingers. Deciding it wasn’t cost effective to heat the church this late at night just for her, she gathered up the invitations, and with one last check that the…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, then Christmas in the Cotswolds is available from all good e-retailers as well as in the Jenny Kane Christmas Collection on Amazon.

mybook.to/ChristmasinCotswolds

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

Many thanks for popping by today,

See you next time for 500 words from Christmas at the Castle.

Happy reading, 

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Another Cup of Christmas

For the next three weeks, I’ll be featuring my ‘Another Cup of….’ festive novellas on the ‘Opening Lines’ blog spot.

Today, I’m starting with the first 500 words from Another Cup of Christmas.

Blurb

Five years ago the staff of Pickwicks Cafe in Richmond were thrown into turmoil when their cook and part-owner, Scott, had a terrible accident. With help from his friends, his wife Peggy, and the staff at the local hospital, he made an amazing recovery. Now Pickwicks is preparing to host a special Christmas fundraiser for the hospital department that looked after Scott.

Pickwicks’ waitress Megan has been liaising with the ward’s administrator, Nick, as all the staff who helped Scott’s recovery are invited. As the problems of organising the fundraiser take up more and more of their busy lives, Megan and Nick contact each other more frequently, and their emails and phone calls start to develop from the practical into the flirty.

But can you actually fall for someone you’ve never met?

As the fundraiser draws closer, Megan is beginning to think that she had imagined all the virtual flirting between herself and Nick – he promised to arrange to meet her for real, but he hasn’t done so. Now he’s bringing someone with him to the fundraiser, and they’re just bound to be everything Megan feels she isn’t …

Join the characters of Jenny Kane’s wonderful debut Another Cup of Coffee once again for a heart-warming festive read!

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘A lovely heart-warming tale set at Christmas and a perfect short read for in front of a blazing fire and a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate!)’

‘A great read in the run up to Christmas, highly recommended

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

December 4th 2012

Having politely escaped her third ‘So what are you doing for Christmas?’ conversation of the day, Megan Johnson was retreating back to the counter when she spotted Pickwicks’ most regular customer sit up from her work and brush a stray red hair from her eyes.

    Knowing it had been at least half an hour since Kit’s caffeine addiction had been attended to, the waitress swiped up the percolator jug and headed in her direction.

    Without bothering to ask if it was required, Megan poured the steaming liquid with practised care, before taking advantage of the lull in Christmas shopping trade, and sitting down opposite her friend. ‘Going OK?’

    Swivelling the laptop round to face Megan, Kit rubbed the back of her neck, ‘I’m sure I’ve missed something. What do you think?’

Pickwicks Festive Fundraiser!

Spoil Yourself With An Afternoon of Pickwicks’ Finest Festive Fare.

In Aid of the Royal Free Hospital’s Spinal Ward.

Saturday 22nd December from 2pm.

Deluxe Buffet And Fundraising Fun!

Tickets are ONLY £25 per person

Don’t miss out!

Book your place at Pickwicks Coffee Shop, Richmond – NOW!!

    Megan scanned the poster. ‘Oh, that’s fabulous! I thought you were writing your latest novel.’

    ‘To tell you the truth, that’s exactly what I should be doing, but Peggy asked me to do some publicity for the fundraiser and I thought I’d better get on with it. Time seems to be dissolving. It’ll be the 22nd before we know it.’

    ‘I know what you mean.’ Megan started to collect the dishes left by a couple who’d just vacated a nearby table.  ‘The next three weeks are going to fly by.’

    ‘Two and a half weeks!’

    ‘Oh, hell! Really?’

    ‘That’s why I want to get these done; otherwise everyone will be too booked up with their own celebrations to have time to come.’ Gesturing towards the kitchen, Kit asked, ‘How’s Scott doing out there, or shouldn’t I ask?’

    Megan’s permanent smile widened further across her lightly freckled face. ‘He’s amazing. I have no idea how he does it. The temperature in that kitchen is tropical, and yet Scott’s still beaming that massive toothy grin of his. I’m seriously beginning to think he is physically unable to stop cooking! Surely he must have pre-prepared as much as he can for the fundraiser by now?’

     Kit nodded. ‘He probably has, but Peggy is getting paranoid there won’t be enough food.’ Glancing around, checking that Megan wasn’t needed by a customer for a moment, Kit pointed to a fresh pile of abandoned cups. ‘If I clear those, will you have a proper read of the poster? I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious but I can’t put my finger on it?’

    Kit was already standing up and taking a tray from Megan’s hands before the waitress said, ‘On one condition.’

    ‘Which is?’

    ‘I can check my emails? I’m supposed to be liaising with the hospital about this for Peggy, but we’ve been so busy over the last few days I…’

If you’d like to read on, Another Cup of Christmas, is available from all good e-book retailers, and as part of the Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.

mybook.to/AnotherCupofChristmas

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

(You don’t need to have read Another Cup of Coffee to enjoy my festive stories.)

You can her me read a little from Another Cup of Christmas here- https://www.facebook.com/coffeetimesessions/videos/381433993174274

Come back next week, for the first 500 words from Christmas in the Cotswolds.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Jennifer Bohnet: Falling for a French Dream

On this week’s Opening Lines,  I’m delighted to welcome one of Boldwood Books most popular authors, Jennifer Bohnet.

Sit back and enjoy the first 500 words – exactly – of Jennifer novel, Falling for a French Dream.

Falling for a French Dream is a  re-issue of one of my very early books and was originally published as French Legacy.  I have tweaked and added new chapters (over 23k words in total) and my new publishers Boldwood Books have re-edited and given it a gorgeous new cover.

Blurb:

After tragically losing her husband, Nicola Jacques and her teenage son Oliver relocate to his father’s family’s olive farm in the hills above the French Riviera.

Due to a family feud, Oliver has never known his father’s side of the family but Grandpapa Henri is intent that Oliver will take over the reins of the ancestral farm and his rightful inheritance.

Determined to keep her independence from a rather controlling Grandpapa, Nicola buys a run-down cottage on the edge of the family’s Olive Farm and sets to work renovating their new home and providing an income by cultivating the small holding that came with the Cottage.

As the summer months roll by, Nicola and Oliver begin to settle happily into their new way of life with the help of Aunts Josephine and Odette, Henri’s twin sisters and local property developer Gilles Bongars.

But the arrival of some unexpected news and guests at the farm, force Nicole and Aunt Josephine to assess what and where their futures lie.

***

FIRST 500 WORDS

CHAPTER ONE

The letter landed on the doormat the first Saturday after New Year, sandwiched between the final telephone demand and the usual junk mail. Bending down to pick it all up, Nicola Jacques saw the French stamps on the envelope and frowned. She threw the junk mail in the bin, put the telephone bill on the kitchen table to deal with later and thoughtfully studied the envelope. Written in Henri Jacques’ distinctive handwriting, it was addressed to Mme Nicola Jacques and not to Oliver, her son and Henri’s grandson, which was unusual. Her limited communications with the French family had always been between her, Aunt Odette or Aunt Josephine, Henri’s unmarried twin sisters. An unexpected letter from Henri himself could only mean one thing: bad news. Slowly, Nicola opened the envelope and took the letter out. Hadn’t the world thrown enough trouble at her in recent years?

Chère Nicola,

Tu will come to La Prouveresse immédiatement. We have matters d’urgence to discuss. Marc’s things to settle. Tu will bring Olivier.

Regards, Henri.

The letter with its clipped English sentences and ad-hoc French words conjured up an immediate picture of her ex-father-in-law. Old-fashioned almost to the point of eccentricity, she knew he’d never change his view of the way the world should be. He wrote English the same way as he spoke it – short and sharp with no regard for grammar. And with little regard for other people’s feelings either. Whatever lay behind this order to visit, Henri would have disregarded both her thoughts and Oliver’s as being of no concern of his and of no consequence. He’d simply decided their presence was needed in France so the command had been issued.

Nicola placed a coffee pod in the machine, pressed the button and stood gazing thoughtfully out of the kitchen window as the machine squirted coffee into the cup. What lay behind this unexpected demand? Was Henri feeling guilty about his treatment of her and Oliver over the past years? Did he want to make amends somehow? Whatever it was, it made no difference. There was no way she was going to France simply because Henri commanded it. She and Oliver would go together one day, when Oliver was older and could understand why things were the way they were. For now she had to protect Oliver and lead her own life as best she could. Albeit a different life to the one she’d known during the years when she’d been married to Marc Jacques, Henri’s only son.

‘Morning, Mum,’ Oliver’s voice jolted her out of her thoughts.

Oliver rubbed the sleep from his eyes before moving across and kissing her on both cheeks. Before it had all gone wrong, Marc had always greeted her like that every morning and as a small boy Oliver had determinedly copied his daddy. These days, it was still a natural part of thirteen-year-old Oliver’s morning routine. One that Nicola cherished and hoped would continue forever.

‘Want some . . .

***

Falling For a French Dream is available in all formats including audio from

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ui8dBT

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3C3M12b

You can also order paperback and hardback versions from your local bookshop.

Bio

Jennifer Bohnet is the international bestselling author of seventeen novels, including ‘Villa of Sun and Secrets’, ‘A Riviera Retreat’ and ‘Summer at the Château. Jennifer’s stories usually span the generations with characters ranging in age and having to cope with unexpected problems in their lives – but there is always a hopeful ending, even if there are tears before. Living in France for over twenty years she has happily adapted to the French lifestyle – especially the long lunches with friends and the wine.

You can find Jennifer here:

Website: http://www.jenniferbohnet.com/index.html

Facebook Author page:  goo.gl/PDKQ8D

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@jenniewriter

Newsletter:   https://bit.ly/JenniferBohnetNews 

Many thanks for sharing your fabulous Opening Lines with use today, Jennifer.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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