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Opening Lines with Jan Baynham: The Secret Sister

I’m delighted to be welcoming the fabulous Jan Baynham back to my blog today after the recent release of The Secret Sister.

Take a peep at the background to Jan’s latest novel, and enjoy her #openinglines.

The Secret Sister is my fourth novel. It has all the features which are becoming my trademark – a dual timeline, contrasting locations, family secrets and forbidden love. In this book, there is also the theme of grief, sibling relationships and forgiveness. It’s set in wartime mid Wales and 1960s Sicily and is the story of Sara a young widow and Carlo, an Italian Prisoner of War imprisoned at a camp in mid-Wales. Carlo was an artist before war broke out and is entrusted with the leadership role of converting an old Nissen hut in the grounds of the prison camp into a beautiful chapel in which the Italian prisoners may worship. He is hiding a secret and at the end of the war, he is not able to return to his native Sicily, having been accused of a crime he did not commit.

Sicily with Mount Etna in the distance

Rural mid-Wales, an area where I was born and grew up, was relatively untouched by the horrors of actual war action but for the families whose husbands, lovers and sons died in active service, the grief and sense of loss was very real. I tried to create imagine what it would have been like living in a small rural village to have members of ‘the enemy’ imprisoned in their midst. The book involved a lot of research including a visit to Henllan in West Wales to see a beautifully preserved Italian Chapel created by Italian Prisoners of War and a trip to Sicily itself. I hope I’ve done justice to that wonderful part of Italy, its climate, its people, culture and its food.

Italian chapel ceiling

Here’s the blurb:

Sara Lewis should be heartbroken when her husband doesn’t return from war, But he was never the kind husband she hoped fort. And now she’s stuck with her cruel mother-in-law on the family farm.

Sara must do what is best for her son so she leaves the farm for the safety of her sister’s home. Despite herself, she begins to notice Carlo, an Italian prisoner of war. Longing looks soon turn into love letters and a connection neither of them can sever. But fraternisation between the prisoners and local women is forbidden. As their love grows, so does the danger all around them.

Twenty-five years later, their daughter, Claudia, holds her father’s hand as he takes his last breath and whisper’s a name, Giulietta. But who is Giulietta and who is the young woman and the baby in an old photograph? The secrets of the past collide as the family is shaken to its very core, forced to revisit memories they’d rather forget to uncover the truth.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Prologue

November 1942, Rural Mid-Wales

Carlo Rosso lay back on his bunk, drew on his cigarette and blew out circles of smoke as he exhaled. The noise of fellow prisoners talking echoed in the air, which smelled of damp and mould. He looked around the curved, metal walls of the building, and with his free hand pulled the coarse, woollen blanket around him. So, this is where I’m going to spend the last years of the war. Miles away from his mother and from Sicily — the country he loved so much. Thoughts of home made him uneasy as he realised, once again, that he might never be able to go back there. He felt for the crucifix that hung around his neck as an image of his accuser entered his head. Sitting up, Carlo stubbed out his cigarette in the tin ashtray on the small table next to his bed. He found his pen and paper as the image of Lucia Rosso’s smiling face came into his head, making his eyes mist with tears. He had to hope his mother’s indomitable strength of character had protected her and she was safe.

Cara Mamma,

You must be wondering and worrying about me as I have worried about you. I hope you are safe and this letter finds you. I arrived at a prisoner of war camp five days ago. All I see through cracked, dirty windows are green fields that go on for ever. It is so cold and wet here. We are housed in big, round, metal buildings, which are freezing and draughty. Everywhere is grey. The camp is in the middle of nowhere — just farms and a small village a few kilometres up the road. Because they’re struggling for workers here, we have been told we can choose to work. Some prisoners resent us and call us “cooperatori”, but at least I’ll be doing something. I don’t see myself as a farm worker, so I’ve chosen to work on a building site. A bit different from my work as an artist back home, eh?

I hope this won’t take too long to get to you so you can stop worrying. Please write back to let me know how you are. Remember not to seal the envelope so it can be read and checked. A price we have to pay.

Mamma, it will be over soon. I’m sure of it.

Con tanto amore, il tuo amato figlio, Carlo.

Chapter One

Sara

April 1943, Rural Mid-Wales

Sara Lewis clutched her son’s tiny hand a little tighter with every step she took nearer to the school. It was Aled’s first day — a day she’d been dreading for so long. She’d put it off for as long as she could but, now that he’d turned five, she had no choice but to bring him here. The solid stone Victorian building, the beating heart of the small village where she lived, loomed before her. Tears pricked along her eyelids when she let go of Aled’s…

Bio

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published. Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel-writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories. Fascinated by family secrets and ‘skeletons lurking in cupboards’, Jan’s dual narrative, dual timeline novels explore how decisions and actions made by family members from one generation impact on the lives of the next. Setting and a sense of place play an important part in all Jan’s stories and as well as her native mid-Wales, there is always a contrasting location.

Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. They have three grown up children and five grandchildren. Having joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is an active member of her local chapter, Cariad.

Social Media Links

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

Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit/?locale=en_GB

Instagram: janbaynham https://www.instagram.com/janbaynham/?hl=en-gb

Blog: Jan’s Journey into Writing www.janbaynham.blogspot.com

Buying link

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Sister-breathtaking-family-sixties-ebook/dp/B0CD86JDLF/

***

Many thanks for sharing your opening lines with us today. Very excited to see this novel out in the world.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny.

Opening Lines: Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed

Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed is published in 2 days time!!

To help get you in the mood for launch day, I’m sharing the #openinglines with you today.

Following on from the adventures of Maddie, Ed, Sabi, Jo, Jem, Sara, and the team at The Potting Shed garden centre, Misty Mornings sees the arrival of some brand new characters, a new café, and a face from Ed’s past…

Blurb

Don’t miss out on the third lovely book in the brand new series by #1 Kindle bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Welcome back to The Potting Shed! As Maddie and Sabi re-open the doors of their family-run garden centre. Business is booming, and it’s time to give back to the community that has kept The Potting Shed afloat, by opening the Forget-Me-Not dementia café.

But, as the doors to the café open, Sabi is offered the chance of a lifetime, that could take her away from The Potting Shed for weeks, café manager Jo’s frail, elderly mother is taken ill, and Maddie’s partner, Ed, takes a job in a faraway city just when Maddie needs him more than ever. A new member of staff is desperately required – who will join Sara, Jo and Ivan as the busy autumn season fast approaches?

Available to pre-order from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Nook and Waterstones as an ebook or paperback.

You can also preorder the story in audio format: Amazon UK, Amazon US.

(Although Misty Mornings is the third book in this series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone read.)

Here are the opening lines… the first 500 words (exactly)… of Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed.

A gentle start before – for at least three of the main characters – everything changes …

SEPTEMBER

Flicking a switch, Maddie flooded the garden centre’s shop with light.

‘Sometimes I forget that this used to be the downstairs of my home. Other days I walk in and immediately picture Dad and me sitting on the sofa, right where the houseplant table is.’

Ed smiled at his girlfriend. ‘He’d love it that so many of the locals visit The Potting Shed these days.’

‘He really would.’ A warming glow of satisfaction filled Maddie as she nodded towards the till. ‘Are you okay sorting the shop float if I go and make sure Jo has enough change in the café?’

‘No problem.’ Ed took a pile of five-pound notes from Maddie and flicked them through his fingers.

‘Great. Once we’re open, I’ll man this till until Sabi has finished walking Florrie, then I’ll go and help Jo in the café.’

‘Do you want me to be on carry-to-the-car duty in between watering the polytunnels this morning?’

‘Please.’

‘After that, if it’s quiet, I thought I’d give the bluebell garden a bit of a tidy. It’s not messy as such but…’ Ed pulled a face.

‘It’s gone a bit straggly.’

‘The lack of bluebells doesn’t help either.’

‘Drawback of it being September.’ Maddie plucked a dead leaf off a nearby cyclamen. ‘I considered adding in a few shrubs, but somehow…’

‘You ran out of time?’

‘Don’t I always.’

‘There’s just so much to do.’ Ed grinned. ‘Maybe you should advertise for another member of staff? Sara’s proving a fabulous addition to The Potting Shed, but she only works part-time.’

‘In truth, I could do with that, and another full-time person.’ Maddie dropped the dead leaf into the nearest waste bin. ‘But we aren’t yet that comfortable budget wise.’

‘Sabi still insisting you pay one loan off at a time before you take on another big expense?’

‘Yes, and I’m grateful to her for it. It’s so much less fraught knowing my sister has a grip on the finances. Means I can get on with the gardening and people stuff, without waking up in the middle of the night stressing about bank managers and spreadsheets.’

‘Good job you have me working for free at the weekends then, isn’t it.’

Maddie slipped an arm around Ed’s waist. ‘You can just rest you know; you’ve had a hectic week lawyering. I love that you help here, but I don’t take it for granted. You might want to go walking on Exmoor, or simply put your feet up.’

‘Don’t be silly.’ Ed shook his head. ‘I love it. And it’s a welcome balm after a week in a cut-throat office.’

‘Cut-throat?’ Maddie saw the briefest flash of unease in Ed’s eyes. ‘You’ve never described your new job that way before.’

Ed brushed the comment aside. ‘Maybe cut-throat is a bit much, but the company I work for in Bristol is a very different type of legal business to Ronald’s laid-back old-fashioned solicitors’ office in Exeter. He was very much customer first.’

‘Thank goodness!’…

As with many of my novels, serious subjects are covered as the characters go along. From the challenges of having relatives with dementia, to the practical difficulties of long distance relationships, Maddie and the gang face every day head on – while being determined to give something back to the community that has supported them while The Potting Shed grew from a small nursery, to the much larger affair it has become.

Obviously, I don’t want to give away any spoilers here – but I can promise the dogs (Florrie and Sheba) will be as much fun at the end of the novel as they are at the beginning. As If I’d kill the dogs! (Readers do email me asking me not too!).

If you’ve not read Frost Falls at The Potting Shed and Bluebell Season at The Potting Shed, you can catch up on the friends previous dramas via eBook, audiobook or paperback from all good retailers.

Happy preordering,

Jenny x

 

A Series Begins: Frost Falls at The Potting Shed

With Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed only two weeks away from publication, I thought I’d go right back to the beginning of the series, and remind you of the #openinglines of  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?

 

OPENING LINES…

‘That’s settled then.’ Tony smiled as his younger daughter poured a fountain of tea into a row of mismatched china cups. ‘You’ll get the house and nursery Maddie, and Sabi, you’ll inherit your mum’s antique furniture and a portion of the profits from this place.’

Lifting their teacups as one, the Willand family clinked them together.

‘How about a custard cream to seal the deal?’ Maddie waved the regularly refilled biscuit tin towards her father. ‘One or two?’

‘Three.’ Tony laughed as he took a handful of biscuits before passing the tin on to his son-in-law. ‘Grab plenty Henry, or the girls will demolish the lot. I learnt that lesson a long time ago. I once witnessed them consume a packet of chocolate chip cookies in less than two minutes.’

‘A slight exaggeration.’ Maddie grinned at her brother-in-law. ‘We were helping clear The Potting Shed’s far polytunnel. Dad needed it done that day, I can’t remember why now, but there was no time for a lunch break and biscuits were the easiest option.’

‘And we were famished.’ Sabi put her palm up, refusing the offer of a biscuit as the tin continued around the table. ‘Are you sure you want to inherit all that hard work, Mads? I can’t help thinking I got the better deal with Mum’s furniture.’

‘Only because you’ve gone off gardening. Anyway, Mum’s things will look fabulous in your house.’ Maddie gave her sister a hug. ‘I can’t wait to help Dad upgrade The Potting Shed from a nursery to a garden centre.’

‘And I’m delighted to think the place will continue to flourish – or should I say blossom – long after I’ve gone.’ Tony’s habitual smile faded as he stared into his tea. ‘I can’t say discussing changes to my will is a fun way to spend a late Sunday afternoon, but once it’s done we can forget all about it and get on with living.’

‘When do you intend to start upgrading this place?’ Henry flicked through a pile of scrap paper and old envelopes on which Tony and Maddie had scribbled their plans for changing their business – which currently provided seedlings, vegetables, potted bulbs, flowers and herbs to the local shopkeepers and hotels, as well as, at weekends, the general public – into a small garden centre.

‘As soon as possible.’ Tony refilled his teacup. ‘It will take time to build up of course. But, if we are careful not to neglect our current customers, while expanding our range for sale on site, then I know we can do it. Might even have a café eventually.’

‘Sounds fabulous.’ Henry fished another biscuit from the tin.

Quiet for a moment, Tony turned to his daughters. ‘You are both completely sure you’re happy with these arrangements?’

‘Totally.’ Maddie looked at her sister.

‘Absolutely,’ Sabi agreed.

There was a clatter of china against china as Tony dropped his cup back into its saucer. ‘Then tomorrow, I’ll call our solicitor and set the wheels in motion. Then you and I, Maddie, can make a start on our plans.’

You can order a copy of this novel from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Nook, Waterstones and all good retailers.

Happy reading!

Jenny x

A Tiny Taster: A Cornish Wedding

This week, I thought I’d share a ‘Tiny Taster’ from A Cornish Wedding (previously published as Abi’ Neighbour)

Sequel to A Cornish Escape, this feel good romance returns you to the world of Abi, Max, Beth and Stan in sunny Sennen Cove.

Blurb

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Heidi Swain and Milly Johnson, A Cornish Wedding is the best kind of summer escape.

Abi has what she’s always dreamed of: her perfect Cornish cottage, great friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. But her idyll is shattered when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Rude and obnoxious, Cassandra doesn’t make a good first impression on Abi. But with the unexpected wedding of one of Abi’s friends to prepare for, Abi has bigger things to worry about.

However, avoiding her new neighbour proves harder than expected and Abi and Cassandra soon realise they might have more in common than they first thought. . .

But with the wedding only weeks away, can they set aside their differences before the big day?

Sennen Cove

Here’s a Tiny Taster…

Cassandra stared at the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front garden. A fresh slogan had been pasted proudly across it, proclaiming Another House Sold!

She frowned. The estate agents must have made a mistake. Justin had talked about renting the cottage, this poky little two-bed terrace in some Cornish backwater, but he’d never once suggested buying it.

Sitting on the low stone wall that ran in front of the row of cottages, with her back to the sold sign, she let out a string of vehemently whispered expletives. Resisting the temptation to throw a pebble at the seagulls which were squawking their hearts out on the roof behind her, she steadied her breathing, like she did when faced with a particularly demanding client.

Shrugging off her suit jacket in deference to the early summer sunshine that poured from a cloud-free sky, Cassandra tried to focus, but doubts continued to assail her. She hadn’t misunderstood Justin, had she?

They’d been laughing over the breakfast table at one of the most exclusive hotels in London when the subject of Cornwall had first come up. Making plans for their future life together, they’d celebrated in grand style the fact that Justin had, after six years of secret trysts and stolen nights together, decided to leave his wife; the dreadful Jacinta.

Excitedly they’d plotted and planned over plates of eggs Benedict and smoked salmon, raising their glasses of Buck’s Fizz to Justin’s promotion to senior partner at the law firm. A promotion which meant that, providing they merged their finances, Justin could afford to get a divorce without being catapulted into penury.

There was only one snag…

If you’d like to read A Cornish Wedding, you can buy it as a paperback or ebook from all good retailers, including

Universal link – mybook.to/CornishWedding

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

Tiny Taster: Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

With Spring in full swing – and hints of summer around the corner – I thought I’d share a tiny taster from the third novel in the #MillGrange,

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange.

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

BLURB

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

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

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

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 a tiny taster…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘You’ve got used to manor house living, that’s what it is.’ As Shaun threw a pile of t-shirts onto the bed, he caught a glimpse of anxiety crossing Thea’s face. ‘I was…

***

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.

If you’d like to hear me read ‘live’ from Spring Blossoms you can do so by clicking this link at 11am this morning- Coffee Time Story Sessions with the Exeter Authors Association | Facebook 

If you would like to buy an e-copy, paperback or audio version of Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, you can purchase a copy from all good retailers, including…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Happy 2nd Birthday to Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

Book three in the #MillGrange series is two years old this week!

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange.

BLURB

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

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

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

 

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…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: A Cornish Wedding

This week, I thought I’d share some on my own Opening Lines.

Here’s the beginning of A Cornish Wedding (previously published as Abi’ Neighbour)

Sequel to A Cornish Escape, this feel good romance returns you to the world of Abi, Max, Beth and Stan in sunny Sennen Cove.

Blurb

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Heidi Swain and Milly Johnson, A Cornish Wedding is the best kind of summer escape.

Abi has what she’s always dreamed of: her perfect Cornish cottage, great friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. But her idyll is shattered when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Rude and obnoxious, Cassandra doesn’t make a good first impression on Abi. But with the unexpected wedding of one of Abi’s friends to prepare for, Abi has bigger things to worry about.

However, avoiding her new neighbour proves harder than expected and Abi and Cassandra soon realise they might have more in common than they first thought. . .

But with the wedding only weeks away, can they set aside their differences before the big day?

FIRST 500 WORDS

Cassandra stared at the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front garden. A fresh slogan had been pasted proudly across it, proclaiming Another House Sold!

She frowned. The estate agents must have made a mistake. Justin had talked about renting the cottage, this poky little two-bed terrace in some Cornish backwater, but he’d never once suggested buying it.

Sitting on the low stone wall that ran in front of the row of cottages, with her back to the sold sign, she let out a string of vehemently whispered expletives. Resisting the temptation to throw a pebble at the seagulls which were squawking their hearts out on the roof behind her, she steadied her breathing, like she did when faced with a particularly demanding client.

Shrugging off her suit jacket in deference to the early summer sunshine that poured from a cloud-free sky, Cassandra tried to focus, but doubts continued to assail her. She hadn’t misunderstood Justin, had she?

They’d been laughing over the breakfast table at one of the most exclusive hotels in London when the subject of Cornwall had first come up. Making plans for their future life together, they’d celebrated in grand style the fact that Justin had, after six years of secret trysts and stolen nights together, decided to leave his wife; the dreadful Jacinta.

Excitedly they’d plotted and planned over plates of eggs Benedict and smoked salmon, raising their glasses of Buck’s Fizz to Justin’s promotion to senior partner at the law firm. A promotion which meant that, providing they merged their finances, Justin could afford to get a divorce without being catapulted into penury.

There was only one snag.

The legal company Justin now worked for, Family Values, prided itself on its moral integrity. There was no way he could risk a scandal after securing the promotion he’d coveted for so long. It would be bad enough when he explained to his colleagues that he was getting a divorce – suddenly producing a long-term mistress would be too much for them to accept in one go.

So Justin had asked Cassandra to move away for a while. He’d suggested they use this short diplomatic period of separation to their advantage, and rent a property to later sublet – at a vast profit – to exhausted executives seeking a spot of relaxation. Cassandra, who could run her own business from anywhere via the Internet, would go and make sure the property was up to date, arrange any decorating that was required, and then rejoin Justin in London once things had died down.

Thinking back, Cassandra realised she should have asked a lot more questions about exactly how much research Justin had already done into this move. But under the influence of the early-morning alcohol, not to mention the triumph she felt at having finally succeeded in persuading Justin to leave his wife, she had suppressed all her instincts and agreed to everything he’d said.

The untidy, clipboard-wielding woman started talking as soon as she climbed out of her Mini….

If you’d like to read A Cornish Wedding, you can buy it as a paperback or ebook from all good retailers, including

Universal link – mybook.to/CornishWedding

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

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