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

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Opening Lines: The Weekender by Fay Keenan

One of the lovely things about running the ‘Opening Lines’ series, is that I get to read so many beginnings from authors I’ve followed for years as well as lots of new voices.

This week I’m welcoming established writer and friend, Fay Keenan, is sharing the first 500 words of her brand new novel, The Weekender.

Over to you Fay…

‘The Weekender’ is the first in a new series of novels set in the fictional town of Willowbury in Somerset, which, in the right light, can look a lot like the iconic town of Glastonbury! Inspired by several things, including an old photograph, a lifelong love of politics, many visits to Glastonbury and the real life campaign to get new generation drugs for cystic fibrosis patients, the novel centres around Holly, a wellbeing shop owner, and Charlie, the new member of parliament for the area. Ideologically they seem to be on different sides, but soon it becomes clear they may have more in common than they think! Set in both Willowbury and Westminster, this book is both a love story and an exploration of what happens when you find yourself in the middle of what could be, literally, a heart breaking matter of life and death.

Blurb

When Charlie Thorpe met Holly Renton, they were not a match made in heaven…

Holly lives and works in the beautiful town of Willowbury in Somerset. An incorrigible optimist, she is determined to change the world for the better.

Charlie Thorpe on the other hand, is the ultimate pragmatist. As Willowbury’s new member of parliament, he has to be. While he’s determined to prove himself to the town, as far as Holly’s concerned, he’s just another politician on the make.

But when their paths cross again, it’s clear they’ve got more in common than they think. Can Holly and Charlie overcome their differences and work together, or are they destined to be forever on opposite sides? And why does Holly have a funny feeling she has met Charlie before…

Let Fay Keenan whisk you away to a world of glorious country views, unforgettable characters and once-in-a-lifetime love. Perfect for all fans of Fern Britton, Veronica Henry and Erica James.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

‘White sage is all very well,’ Holly Renton reflected, ‘but the ashes are a bugger to get out of the carpet.’ Earlier that morning, before the shop had opened, Holly had carried out a ritual called smudging, which was meant to purify the energy in a building, promote positivity and remove negative energies. Picking up the dustpan and brush, she emptied the pungent remains of the dried herb bundle she’d ignited and then wafted around the windows and doors of the shop into the bin.

‘I know you recommend this all the time for other people’s houses, but why are you so bloody obsessed with doing it in the shop?’ Rachel, Holly’s sister, glanced down at where Holly was still brushing the rug under the mullioned front window of ComIncense, the shop specialising in herbal remedies and well-being aids that Holly ran in the sleepy but nonetheless New Age small town of Willowbury and smiled. Just beyond the shop’s counter, the door that led to Holly’s small back yard was open and Harry, Rachel’s three-year-old son and Holly’s nephew, was playing happily with a set of wooden animal-shaped blocks in their own lorry, which had come from a box of assorted toys that Holly kept specifically for the younger customers. Holly didn’t believe, unlike some of her business-owning neighbours, that children should be banned from places like hers, and since the early-spring weather was warm and pleasant, Harry had trundled out into the sunlight to play.

‘You’ve got to refresh places from time to time,’ Holly replied. ‘Especially when there’s been a lot of negative energy about, and since all of the scandal with Hugo Fitzgerald, I really felt like this place needed a spiritual cleanse!’

‘You can say that again,’ Rachel reached under the wooden apothecary’s dresser that displayed countless jars and pots of dried herbs and flowers, all purporting to be of some spiritual or physical benefit, to retrieve one of the toy llamas that Harry had thrown under it. ‘What a way to go…’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Holly replied, still sweeping. ‘At least, having had a massive coronary, he wouldn’t have known much about it.’

‘But what a waste of a good plate of scones and jam!’ Rachel grinned. ‘Mum told me that his constituency agent found him face down in them at his desk.’

‘I wouldn’t have fancied digging him out of them,’ Holly said. ‘But from the size of him, the heart attack was an accident waiting to happen. And gossip has it, he had his finger in a lot of pies, not just the odd plate of scones.’

‘Oh, you know how the rumour mill goes into overdrive when something like this happens.’ Rachel, who had more of a tendency to see the good in people than her sister did, dismissed Holly’s comments with a wave of her hand. ‘I mean, I’m not saying he wasn’t a prat, but nothing was ever proven about his financial misdemeanours. Although, I have to admit, since…

***

You can pre-order The Weekender via-

tiny.cc/theweekender and on Kobo at https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-weekender-9

Bio

Fay Keenan is the author of the bestselling Little Somerby series of novels. She has led writing workshops with Bristol University and has been a visiting speaker in schools.  She teaches English in a local secondary school and  lives in Somerset. Fay’s new series for Boldwood will begin with The Weekender, in November 2019.

***

Many thanks for your fabulous 500 words Fay.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny 

Opening Lines: The Prosecco Effect by Cheri Davies

This week I’m delighted to welcome a good friend, Cheri Davies, to my blog to share the ‘Opening Lines’ from her romantic novella,

The Prosecco Effect.

BLURB

Can love shine brighter than a super trouper spotlight for Felicity and Orlando?

Felicity Joy is a fallen star: axed from the leading role in a TV drama and jilted at the altar, her life is a mess. A six month theatrical tour of Italy offers escape: a chance to rebuild her career, mend her broken heart and indulge in her favourite cuisine.

Orlando Locatelli is an Italian restaurateur superstar. But his family are big trouble and his theatre director father has a penchant for his leading ladies.

Damaged by secrets and with careers their number one priority, Felicity and Orlando aren’t looking for love. But when they meet, the attraction is instant.

Will theirs be a brief encounter or can they overcome their fears to be together forever?

An uplifting, irresistible romance set in Italy and the glamorous world of show business – a perfect, sunny read

Buy here: mybook.to/ProseccoEffect

FIRST 500 WORDS…

In all her thirty-eight years Felicity Joy hadn’t felt as wretched as she did that glorious spring morning. Given her bad start in life that was really saying something. As she scuttled along, her chin held low against her chest, the sun warmed the back of her neck, the edges of the cheap wig scratched against her jawline. Despite hours in front of the bathroom mirror, trowelling on concealer, cooling gel and foundation, she was startled when she caught a glimpse of her reflection in a shop window.

She stopped and admitted she had looked better. Her blotchy cheeks and red-rimmed, swollen eyes were still visible – to her if no one else. She touched the wig with her fingertips, nail varnish chipped and flaking. The fringe was severe, but she liked the way it grazed her brows, obscuring the fine lines on her forehead, and the bright red hue emphasised the Mediterranean green of her eyes. Note to self: Book some Botox. Through the grimy glass, Felicity caught sight of a man at the counter, staring at her, long and hard. She saw a glint of recognition wash over his dull complexion and shuddered. Turning sharply, she scurried down Frith Street.

Damn Susi. Why on earth did they have to meet in Soho? Why not somewhere less showbizzy? Some place where no one gave a shit, where Felicity wouldn’t know anyone and few would recognise her. Where Felicity Joy, formerly the nation’s sweetheart, fêted actress, model and dancing superstar could blend into the crowds. Where Felicity Joy, jilted lover and talentless, two-timing, heartless harlot could also disappear.

Dodging an abandoned Big Mac she stepped into the gutter, narrowly missing a pile of steaming dog crap. At least the owner had dragged the animal off the pavement, though it was evidently asking too much to pick up the mess. She remembered a line from a favourite play: ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ The quote was a personal motto; she’d lived her life by it. Oscar Wilde, the man was a genius, and he’d suffered.

Good grief, Fliss, the poor man went to prison for loving the wrong kind of person; I’m lucky really. Really lucky. And if I repeat this often enough, I will believe it; I will.

She repeated the mantra as she walked but her throat contracted regardless.

I must not cry in the street. I must not cry in the street. I must not cry, full stop.

That would be the very worst thing; it might draw attention and, right now, that was the very last thing she needed. She’d had far too much attention of late – all the wrong sort.

The restaurant was warm and as she raced down the steep steps to the basement room she unzipped her parka. Wafts of basil, fresh tomatoes and pizza dough wafted by – delicious. How she loved Italian. Susi was sitting in the far corner, back to the wall, at…

 

Buy your copy for the bargain price of 99p https://amzn.to/2IKa5fA 

This special price is available for a short time only- so grab your copy now!

***

Bio

Cheri Davies is a mother to ginger boys and author of The Prosecco Effect. A former actor, Cheri loves to write romance and intrigue set in the glamorous world of show business. The Prosecco Effect is the first book in the Stage Door series, following the adventures of Felicity Joy and Orlando Locatelli in Italy. Cheri has published four novels and numerous short stories in another guise. An unsporty girl, Cheri surprised herself, and many others, when she broke the school long jump record aged 12. It was the first time she’d jumped – competitively.

http://cheridaviesbooks.wordpress.com 

***

Many thanks to Cheri for sharing her 500 words with us today

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Jon Hartless: Rise of the Petrol Queen

For this week’s Opening Lines, I’m delighted to welcome Jon Hartless, to my blog.

Sit back and enjoy the first 500 words of his steampunk novel, Rise of the Petrol Queen; Book 2 in the Poppy Orpington Chronicles.

Over to you Jon…

The Poppy Orpington Chronicles is a Steampunk adventure featuring a young, working-class heroine fighting to survive in a society which dismisses her for her sex, class and disabilities. The saga was inspired by the real-life era of the Bentley Boys, 1920s motor-racing playboys who had the reputation of racing all day and partying all night. The media and public loved them, but reading up on their lives and the time they lived in, all I could see was the elitism, the unfair advantages and opportunities given to those with high birth and money, and the complete invisibility of all those who were not wealthy, titled white men. From that came Full Throttle, the first in the series, followed by the sequel Rise of the Petrol Queen. Book 3, Fall of the Petrol Queen, is almost finished, book 5 is written but nowhere near complete, while book 4 seems to have broken down somewhere….

Blurb:

Poppy Orpington is going racing. With or without your approval.

Following a controversial loss at the Purley Cup, Poppy Orpington and her petrol-fuelled race car, Thunderbus, are dominating the headlines. But not one article is complimentary, or even unbiased.

In spite of these daily slanderous reports on her character, Poppy is determined to make something of herself. She continues racing, she starts up her own factory hoping to sell her father’s patented petrol-run cars, she buys her own house and speaks up for the down-trodden. But all the while she is still seen as just a woman.

A woman unwilling to squeeze into the female mould created by men of power – and so the mould must be broken.

FIRST 500 WORDSRise of the Petrol Queen, book 2 of the Poppy Orpington Chronicles.

Preface

James Henry Birkin, editor

Writing this second book on Poppy Orpington has proved somewhat problematic, not least because a biography demands a traditional linear structure of cause and effect – from birth to success and from success to death. Volume I, Full Throttle, covered Poppy’s early years up to her stunning debut on the Purley racetrack, but despite her tragically curtailed life we are not yet ready to focus upon her passing.

Volume II, Rise of the Petrol Queen, instead concentrates upon the months of February to November 1904 – a time encompassing Poppy’s first full season as a racing driver and also the founding of her famous car company, Thunderbolt Motors. 1904 also witnessed the first sustained outpouring of hatred toward her from the popular press, of which the worst offender was the Daily Post, founded by Lord William Wrohan to propagate his loathing of the poor, the working class, women and foreigners.

Sadly, the paper still operates to the same values today. Not once have the proprietors admitted their culpability in libelling Poppy, nor have they ever admitted to the criminal actions against her by their editor of that time, Harvey McArdle. His behaviour at Poppy’s cottage has been an open secret within the newspaper industry for years, yet this volume – astonishingly – is the first account of the attack ever put before the public.

It was the Post, incidentally, which hung the disparaging nickname of the “Petrol Queen” upon Poppy – a mocking label repeated across many other newspapers. I have included several contemporary articles to demonstrate the media’s attitude toward Poppy and the inevitable strain this placed upon her.

A far better view into Poppy’s character can be gleaned from her numerous letters and diary entries, all vital resources in my attempt to rehabilitate Poppy’s reputation. Unfortunately, this is the last time I can offer a definite insight into her state of mind as Poppy became far more circumspect about recording her feelings after her traumatic encounter with McArdle. For Volumes III and IV, legitimate guesswork coupled with external sources such as letters from third parties, press reports and other publications from the era will have to suffice.

In conclusion, I hope the reader enjoys this return visit to Poppy’s world – her life, her victories and her defeats – and will come away with a little more sympathy and understanding of a most wronged woman whose worst days sadly lay ahead of her.

Chapter One

‘Can my father return home?’ enquired Poppy of the specialist, Doctor Joseph Baxter.

‘Good Lord, no. Although he has been quite lucid this morning, on other days he will suffer a relapse and will be quite helpless in looking after himself – and he then potentially becomes dangerous to others.’

‘Is he still having violent episodes?’ asked Poppy, anguish showing on her face. She had been asking the same question for weeks. As she sat in the hard button-back chair across from Baxter’s polished desk, she hoped today’s answer would be different.

‘There have been a…

***

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07TKLDQ3G/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Full-Throttle-Jon-Hartless-ebook/dp/B06X95NQ6V/ref=pd_sbs_351_1/258-5208768-1596127?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B06X95NQ6V&pd_rd_r=d7b731a9-9e6d-40df-a3d4-0866c1e574d0&pd_rd_w=JQHAV&pd_rd_wg=Yh1gl&pf_rd_p=2b420a2f-6593-478e-8b5f-cb43865ff16f&pf_rd_r=84VFM718S960WN0NWNJZ&psc=1&refRID=84VFM718S960WN0NWNJZ

Bio:

Jon Hartless was born in the 1970s and has spent much of his life in the Midlands and Worcestershire. His latest novels, a steampunk motor racing adventure examining the gulf between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, started with Full Throttle in August 2017 and continued with Rise of the Petrol Queen in 2019, both published by Accent Press.

Social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JHartlessauthor?prefetchTimestamp=1569265278580

Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/jonhartlessauthor/

***

Many thanks for your fabulous starting words, Jon.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny

 

Opening Lines with Richard Gould : Jack & Jill Went Down Hill

Opening Lines is with us once more.

This week I’m welcoming fellow romance writer, Richard Gould to my place to share the first 500 words from his novel,

Jack and Jill Went Down Hill.

 

Thank you, Jenny, for inviting me onto your blog. I write Romance. In case people haven’t noticed, there aren’t that many males writing (nor for that matter, reading) this genre. I didn’t set out to be a romantic fiction author, I just got placed there because I explore relationships, particularly second-chance ones. I use humour to describe my protagonists’ tragi-heroic journeys in pursuit of love, carrying cartloads of baggage as they struggle to balance the pressures of work, friends and families with the search for romance.

Jack & Jill went Downhill starts on Freshers Big Party Night at university. With Jack falling down and Jill tumbling after him, the choice of title became obvious. When they first met, the couple shared the joke that their names matched those of the nursery rhyme, but they fail to recognise that their lives are playing out the plot.

 

Blurb

When Jill terminates the call, she watches as Jack and Sophie walk off, holding hands just as they had done in what seems like a very distant past.

Jack and Jill had experienced fireworks on the night they met – their first night at University. Despite being raised with very different backgrounds, they seem to be the perfect couple. Mutual love can be seen by everyone around them. When they graduate and are thrust into the real world, the cracks start to show. Pressure from work reduces their time together. Family struggles test their loyalties. And inner demons become visible.

Jack is struggling to maintain his focus at work. Succumbing to peer pressure, the late night drinking with colleagues becomes a regular occurrence. Too regular in Jill’s opinion… Can Jill reignite the passion that seems to have withered? Or is Jack too far gone to be rescued? Should Jill walk away to save herself? Whilst dealing with her crumbling marriage, Jill’s own life begins to collapse. Despite the picture-perfect start to their relationship, it becomes clear that the cliché ‘happily ever after’ requires more than just love to make it everlasting.

First 500 words…

For Jack it is love at first sight.

For Jill it is love at first sight.

Freshers Big Party Night at university. The hall is jam-packed with several hundred first year students, alcohol-fuelled to obliterate apprehension. The pre-party big news is that predatory second and third year boys have been banned following the previous year’s behaviour which had been fully exposed in the local press. Britney blasts out of two giant speakers. A floodlit rotating silver ball, suspended from the ceiling, covers the dancers in a shower of white sparkle. Little pairing is yet apparent, this being the first evening. It’s mainly girls dancing with girls, with the boys leaning against walls or by the bar. Looking on, weighing up the talent.

Jill has come along with the girls she’s met on her corridor in the hall of residence. That afternoon they’d reached the kitchen within minutes of each other and had nattered and drunk tea for an hour or so, planning their itinerary for the weekend. The party is a must do and the four of them are now swaying as they karaoke to Craig David’s Fill Me In.

Jack has come alone, uncomfortable, weighing up whether it is the place he wants to be, the ‘it’ referring to the university as well as this event. Earlier that day, having unloaded his car, he’d remained in his room sorting his things, aware of the buzz in the nearby kitchen but unwilling to join his new housemates. That is, of course, assuming he stays.

Freshers Big Party Night is turning out to be a tacky affair. Standing by the bar, he looks down at his plastic beaker and swills the cloudy lukewarm lager before downing the remains and crushing the empty container. Commoners, that’s the unpleasant word he can’t help thinking of to describe the people around him. He watches as they jump up and down on the dance floor, dressed in tasteless cheap clothes. Probably from Primark or H&M or New Look.

Jack catches sight of Jill, who picks up his gaze and their eyes fix. There follows the type of chemistry that no scientist has ever been able to explain, the instant drawing together of a man and woman without having spoken a word.

Jill abandons her newfound friends and approaches Jack. Unsure whether he is her target, he remains slouched against the bar.

“Dance?” she mouths, never shy when it comes to talking to strangers.

“I don’t really,” Jack shouts in a vain effort to be heard above the volume of Pink’s Don’t Let Me Get Me.

“Come on,” she urges, extending her hand. Jack inadvertently presents her with the crumpled bit of plastic. He drops it to the floor then takes hold of her.

They dance and dance some more, bumping against a growing number of embryonic couples.

Their attempt to chat is futile.

“Something, something, something, something.”

“What?”

“Something, something, something, something.”

“Sorry, can’t hear you.”

“What?”

“LATER!” this yelled down Jack’s ear.

The absurdity…

***

Buy link

Amazon           mybook.to/JACKANDJILL

Bio

I should start with a confession – my name is Richard and I’m a coward. Since I’m usually placed in Romance or Contemporary Women’s Fiction genres, an agent suggested I use a female pseudonym to increase readership. “No way!” I declared with bold pride, “people are going to have to accept me for who I am.” That evening I considered Rebecca, Rosemary, Rachel and Rita before opting for the cowardly compromise of using R J instead of Richard.

​Following selection onto the New Writers programme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, two novels have been published by Accent Press – ‘A Street Café Named Desire’ (short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award) and ‘The Engagement Party’. ‘Jack & Jill went Downhill’ is my first novel published by Endeavour Media. ​I’ve worked in schools, universities and for a national educational charity and have been published in a wide range of educational journals, newspapers and magazines. Although I enjoy writing non-fiction, my true love is as an author of novels that make the reader reflect on the idiosyncrasies of everyday life.

Social Media

Website:          http://www.rjgould.info

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/RJGould_author

Email:              rjgould.author@gmail.com

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/richard.gould.14418

Many thanks for joining us today Richard,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

Opening Lines by Lucy V. Hay: Do No Harm

Opening Lines time is upon us.

This week I’m delighted to welcome bestselling author, award winning blogger, writing guru, and owner/manager of the brilliant Bang2Write website, Lucy V. Hay to my place.

Lucy is sharing the first 500 words of debut dark crime/thriller, Do No Harm

BLURB

Till death do us part… After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong… Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives… Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction. ‘Well written, engrossing and brilliantly unique’ – Heat. ‘Prepare to be surprised’ – Closer. ‘A claustrophobic and complex read’ – Culture Fly. ‘Sharp, confident writing’ – Peter James. ‘Original, daring and emotionally truthful’ – Paul Burston.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

I’m early.

I regard the hotel in the wing mirror of my car. I see my own reflection  – my nostrils flaring as I take in the venue. If you’d listened to me, you could have had so much more than this. Modern build on an industrial estate? Ugh.

Behind me I can see the gawdy, fluorescent signs for a chain cinema, a bowling alley, various fast-food restaurants, one of which offers an ‘all you can eat’ buffet bonanza. It’s what the Staceys and Chads like to call an ‘entertainment park’, though I cannot for one second imagine what’s so entertaining about these places. Give me a low-key, low-lit restaurant

with a ludicrously expensive wine list any day.

Oh no, this is no good. If it had been up to me, I would have found you somewhere far more flash to celebrate your nuptials. But that ship has sailed. For now.

I might be down, as they say – but I’m not out.

A group of people appear behind my car. I watch their reflections. They’re in frocks and suits – two couples, the women tottering on high heels, holding on to their men’s elbows. They must be going to your wedding. Then behind them, a tired-looking family: the man is in a shirt and tie, an incongruous pink cloth over one shoulder. He carries a sleeping baby girl in a flowery dress with an overly large bow on the back. The woman wears a trouser suit, the jacket just a smidge too small across her bust. Two little boys in bow ties run ahead of her; she holds her arms out to them as if she’s shepherding geese.

A woman in a purple beautician’s tabard stops next to the wedding party. She smiles and laughs, beckoning them with her. She’s diminutive and young-looking, orange panstick caked on her pale skin. There will be a subterranean salon somewhere in the hotel’s depths. The smell of stale sweat will be masked by scented candles, vanilla or patchouli, but the tang

of human musk will persist. You can scrub the masseuse tables, the floors, the jacuzzi; you can launder the towels, spray liberal amounts of deodorant and air freshener, strip away our clothes, our pretensions. But it’s always there. Flesh – animal, predatory. Demanding domination, submission.

It’s what we all are, underneath it all.

I look at my watch. In just one and a half hours you will be married. I suppose I ought to have prepared myself for this day. I felt sure you would wander – as you claimed you needed to – then return, certain you could do no better. I guess I never thought you would leave me so finally, splashing about in your wake.

I’m such a fool.

***

BIO:

Lucy V Hay is an author of fiction and non-fiction. Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is out now and is to be adapted by Agatha Raisin producers Free@Last TV. Her second crime novel, Do No Harm, was a finalist in the Dead Good Books Readers’ Awards 2019. Her next title is Never Have I Ever for Hodder Books, out this December.

***

Many thanks Lucy. Cracking opening lines, from a very clever story.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny

Opening Lines with Chris Chalmers: Dinner At The Happy Skeleton

This week’s opening lines features the latest novel by Chris Chalmers.

I have to say, Dinner at the Happy Skeleton, sounds a hell of a lot of fun!

Over to you Chris…

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton – The Blurb:

Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador — but with men it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere, until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time-out and a payoff in his pocket, summer presents a world of possibilities; just as the memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.

From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-O rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.

‘In Dan, Chris Chalmers has created his most appealing protagonist yet … An eye-opening, always entertaining romp through modern sexual mores, with a sweet beating heart of true feeling at its core.’ SUZI FEAY, literary journalist

YOU MIGHT AS WELL ASK THE DONALD…

If you’re planning a late summer getaway, here’s a suggestion for a poolside page-turner with a difference.

Literary critic and Booker Prize nominee Philip Hensher called Dinner At The Happy Skeleton, ‘the perfect novel for a sunny afternoon. Full of charm and vim and sauce…’ And unless it’s the last white-chocolate Magnum in the shop, I’m not about to argue with him about anything.

Expect mid-life crises, bed-hopping, fun and adventures off the tourist trail, as Dan the out-of-work advertising man blows his latest redundancy cheque on a hedonistic summer of self discovery. What begins as the chance to take time out from his career turns into a quest to trace the ex that serial-singleton Dan blames for the smouldering ruins of his love-life.

Working on the principle that asking any author for an objective view of their novel is like asking Donald Trump to recommend a skyscraper, I’ll say no more. Try the first 500 words of Dinner At The Happy Skeleton for yourself. And if you like them, get in quick because the ebook is 99p till the end of August.

I call that sauce for your sun-lounger and a bargain to boot.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

CHAPTER ONE

I love waking up next to Jack. He is five foot five, comedy small, so not what you’d call any of my types. But his skin is naturally smooth as a baby’s; a bonus in a man of thirty-four. I nuzzle his head under my chin and try not to think of the spider-legs running amok over my own shoulders. The red lights on his ceiling say 07:18. Another seven minutes till we are officially behind schedule.

‘I need a slash,’ he growls, in a voice cracked by dawn.

‘Do Thunderbird Four,’ I say. ‘If you loved me you would …’

Jack is cute, with chipmunk eyes and cheeks you want to bite. He is a living Action Man, compact and perfectly proportioned with hair like a tennis ball. But he doesn’t love me really.

Thank God.

He tuts as his head disappears. The hummock under the duvet shifts and deflates until his feet appear at the bottom of the bed. The rest of him follows as he folds into a heap on the carpet and crawls for the door … It lacks the smooth entry and splosh of the little yellow submarine exiting the belly of Thunderbird Two. But it makes me laugh, every time.

At that moment there’s a clink of china and a swish of designer silk as the bedroom door opens, narrowly missing Jack’s head.

‘Brew,’ says Phil, stepping over him.

He puts three mugs on the bedside table. Then he slips out of his dressing gown and climbs back into the bed.

*

A threesome isn’t something you go looking for. No, scratch that – it’s exactly what you go looking for when you’ve been around the block as many times as I have. You just don’t expect it to turn into anything.

I met Jack and Phil online the previous August. We chatted, suggestively, two or three times. I enjoyed the frisson of not knowing which of the two guys in the photos I was talking to, and since for once they were both quite tasty,it didn’t matter.

As for the day we met – well, that was all quite Cynthia Payne …

So I’m sweaty and hungover, eager for fun if knackered from the night before, as I trudge up Denmark Hill with a rucksack full of sex toys. It takes me a while to find the address in a neat and tidy street that feels (no pun intended) anally suburban. Multi-hued children on tricycles clatter over paving stones, and though the net curtains don’t actually twitch like flamenco hems it feels like they should.

The taller one answers the door and shows me into the kitchen, where the shorter one is emptying the dishwasher from Sunday lunch. A tiny telly plays on the granite worktop as I tear a can of Fosters from the four-pack I picked up at Sainsbury’s.

‘I didn’t know what to bring,’ I say, my rucksack betraying otherwise as it thuds on the terracotta flags.

BIO and SOCIAL LINKS:

Chris Chalmers lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries, and swum with iguanas. Aside from his novels, his proudest literary achievement is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at www.chrischalmers.net

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dinner-Happy-Skeleton-Chris-Chalmers-ebook/dp/B076X98C31/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1566576917&sr=8-1 

***

Another fabulous set of opening lines!

Thanks Chris.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Jane Risdon: Undercover Crime Shorts

For this week’s Opening Lines, I’m delighted to welcome a great friend to my blog, the fabulous author, Jane Risdon.

Over to you Jane…

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for asking me back to your fab Opening Lines which I enjoy reading so much and contributing towards.

My 500 Opening Lines come from the opening story in my very first collection of short crime stories under one cover for the first time: Undercover: Crime Shorts

Undercover: Crime Shorts features seven short stories which satisfy most fans of crime fiction and its sub-genres (not my words but those of a reviewer) and it was hard to put the collection together when you consider I have over one hundred short stories from which to choose.

These stories are designed to keep you on the edge of your seat and to be read during a train/bus journey perhaps or before bed. When you want read something you can finish in under an hour with more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

I was so pleasantly surprised when upon release the collection shot into the Amazon Best-seller ratings at #18 in the UK and #333 in the USA – the first day!  Sadly, it coincided with me being in Facebook jail for a week at the same time, so promoting was a nightmare. I have no idea of which crime I was being convicted, but they have their own rules.

I chose Sweet Sable – The Red Siren, as my opening chapter in the book. It is set in Hollywood in 1939 at the height of the night-club age, when clubs were where singers got to show off their talents and where they stood a chance of hooking a ‘Sugar Daddy,’ and ‘Stage Door Johnnies,’ were on the hunt for a conquest and a quick lay.

A Great Grandfather was a ‘Stage Door Johnnie,’ in London, back in the day – my inspiration comes from so many sources!

Back to my story: The Mafia has a hold on Las Vegas and Hollywood and nearly everyone is in hock to them one way and another, even politicians. Corruption is rife in 1939.

Sable is a nightclub singer with another string to her bow and she uses her good looks, her sexy voice, and diva performances to snare rich men whose egos need stroking – this is how she makes her ‘additional’ living; snaring, hooking, and then stinging her male lovers – enriching herself by blackmailing them and adding to her ‘retirement fund.’

If any play rough, well, she can play rough too…

Before she is about to go on stage with the nightclub’s resident band she has a visit to pay and we meet her as she breaks into the offices of one of her ‘marks,’ before rushing back to prepare for her performance.

I’ve used Hollywood for this story because it ties into some research I had to undertake a while back when writing another Hollywood-based story about the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming young starlet. It’s called Cue Murder, and features in an anthology I contributed towards – Cons, Dames and G-Men published by Stab in the Dark Crime Writers.

Elisabeth Risdon

I used my husband’s late, great aunt, movie actress Elizabeth Risdon, for my research into the era of the silver screen in the late 1930s and I was able to go back to this research for Sweet Sable. Elizabeth’s career was long and successful. She began on stage in England and then Broadway, moving with ease into the Silent Movie era and later starred with many screen greats such as John Wayne and Cary Grant in over 100 movies during the Golden Age of Hollywood, until her death in the mid-1950s.

Lupe Velez

It was her roles with Lupe Velez – The Mexican Spitfire – which inspired Cue Murder and subsequently Sweet SableThe Red Siren.

Elizabeth Risdon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Risdon

Lupe Velez: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupe_V%C3%A9lez

FIRST 500 WORDS from the Opening Chapter:

Sweet Sable – The Red Siren

Closing the safe door quietly and with an expert spin of the dial the black-clad woman straightened up, slinging the grip with her haul over her shoulder. She stood listening intently before moving towards the office door. Again she waited, her ears straining, before gently prising the door open and stepping silently into the corridor of darkened offices; she eased the door closed calculating she had barely two minutes before the night-watchman made his rounds, trying the doors and checking the building was secure.

The woman headed for the fire escape where she’d made her entrance to the three storey building some ten minutes earlier. Gently raising the window she climbed out on to the metal staircase with the athletic grace of a ballet dancer, giving the dark alley below a quick once-over to ensure no-one was around she hastily made her way down the rusting stairs. Her tar- toned unremarkable and unmemorable automobile was parked across the street, hidden in the gloom of another narrow alleyway. Glancing at her wrist-watch – an expensive pay-off from a married lover – she knew she’d better step on the gas. She’d less than fifteen minutes to get back to the night-club, park her car at the darkest end of the outside lot, and leg it back to her dressing-room with enough time to change into her gown for her last set of the evening.

The red-head chuckled to herself as she repaired her lipstick pouting seductively at herself in the mirror, waiting for the stagehand to knock on her door with her final call. She was buzzing. She’d done it again, she’d pulled it off. It was better than any sex she’d ever had, and that was saying something. She chuckled, puckered her ample lips and blew herself a huge wet kiss.

*****

As the spotlight found its mark the band-leader nodded to the scarlet-clad shapely figure who took up position in front of the microphone. Her hips swayed in time to the jazz trumpet and she took her cue.  Her sultry sable-clad tones sucked her audience into her lair.

The figures outlined in the flickering candle-light adorning circular tables dotted around the smoke-hazed, expectant venue, stopped talking and turned their heads towards the elevated stage where Desi Garcia’s Syncopators went into full swing behind Sweet Sable, also known as the Red Siren – neither was her real name but no-one cared. When her song ended there was a moment’s silence before they pounded their tables shouting, ‘more, more.’

Sweet Sable wiggled her slender but shapely hips, leaned over the stage giving more than an eye-full of her full bosom on display in her tight-fitting strapless gown and blew huge smackers into the air, aimed at no-one in particular but the full-blooded men in the audience got the message and so did their partners who silently seethed.

Her set over for the evening Sweet Sable made her way back to her dressing room, accepting compliments and congratulations on her ‘wonderful performance,’ smiling, blowing kisses…

***

Undercover: Crime Shorts is available from Waterstones in Paperback: ISBN 9780359397839

And from most digital platforms including Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc for Kindle, Phone and Tablet and from Lulu in Paperback too.

Buy links:

https://books2read.com/b/4jD0wo

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-cover-crime-shorts-jane-risdon/1130007355

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RFRVL4P

http://www.lulu.com/…/under…/paperback/product-24082039.html

Social Media:

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

https://janerisdon.com

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

https://accentpressbooks.com/collections/jane-risdon

https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

https://www.instagram.com/janerisdonwriter/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/janerisdon2/

mewe.com/i/janerisdon

Author Interview on The Authors Show.com:

https://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/ 

Many thanks for visiting today Jane,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Kellie Butler: The Broken Tree

It’s Opening Lines time again.

This week I’m delighted to welcome Kellie Butler, with the first 500 words from her brand new novel, The Broken Tree.

 

Hi, my name is Kellie Butler and I’m back again for another installment of the first 500 words from my new book The Broken Tree. Thanks so much for having me back, Jenny!

The  Laurelhurst Chronicles family saga follows the Cavert family from the beginning of the Second World War through the mid-1970s. It centers on siblings  Lydie Cavert and her brother Edward. My initial inspiration for this series was writing about trauma from the perspective of an adolescent that endures a lot of things we go through in life and then some. Every family has secrets, and her family certainly has a bevy full. I draw inspiration from classic film, television, literature, and historical research.

For the third installment in the series, I was initially inspired by a camping story a friend of mine from Lancashire told me about lightning striking a tree up on Pendle Hill. It reminded me of a story I had heard long ago of a tree holding the curse of a young boy who was shunned by his community for the practice of divination, even though he had made his community wealthy. If the tree ever broke or fell, the curse would come alive. It inspired me to research the Lancashire Witch Trials and craft a story of how events from those times during the summer of 1612 would affect the Cavert family in the late 1950’s.

Here’s the blurb of this captivating story of love, loss, and betrayal.

An anxious homecoming. A three-hundred-year-old curse. A betrayal that threatens to tear the Cavert and Bainbridge families apart. Welcome home to Laurelhurst.

Lancashire, Summer 1959. Fifteen years ago, Lydie Cavert Bainbridge left the dark memories of her youth at Laurelhurst Manor behind her.

Now thirty-two, an expectant Lydie returns with her family of five with two goals: to protect her children from her horrific experience at Laurelhurst and to spend a peaceful summer before the arrival of her fourth child.

When Lydie comes across an ancient oak tree split in the middle on the edge of the estate, an old secret from three hundred years ago involving an enemy is revealed, along with  specters of the past she had hoped to leave behind.

As the tree casts a shadow upon the house and loyalties are tested, Lydie must choose between the love she holds for her family and the love for her brother. Can the Cavert family stay together, or will splinter like the tree found on the moors?

***

First 500 words…

On a balmy June afternoon in 1959, the waters of Morecambe Bay shimmered in the sun. Yet underneath the surface, danger lurked for any unfortunate person who might have misjudged the swift currents and shifting sands, as five of Lancashire’s rivers emptied into the bay. Lydie had relayed to her husband, Henry, the stories she had heard in school of fishermen who had perilously misjudged the sands and lost their lives in search of a bountiful catch of cockles. She had warned him on their way towards the beach not to venture too far from the shore, as some areas of the bay contained quicksand. Henry took the story to heart.

Lydie lounged on a blanket while Henry played with their three children—Robert (Bobby), Eleanor (Nora), and Soon-Li (Suzy). While the children were far away from danger, Lydie still placed an instinctive hand upon her pink gingham shirtdress. She was four months pregnant, and she barely showed.

Henry tossed a frisbee while he kept a watchful eye on all three tots. Lydie’s lips curled into a smile as she watched his tall, trim body, lean muscles rippling underneath his short-sleeved white cotton shirt and khaki shorts.  His short, golden brown hair, still cut in the same sleek cut he had sported since his Ivy League days, appeared like caramel in the sun.  Lydie knew she was blessed to have such a wonderful husband. She heard many stories in the beauty parlors and at the occasional bridge game she attended with young mothers. Stories of husbands who told their wives they were working late in the city while they were actually out carousing around.  She knew two women in her neighborhood who sat alone many a night without a word from their husbands.

The years hadn’t always been easy. Only three months after they had married, almost nine summers ago, the army had drafted Henry into service in Korea under the Doctor’s Draft of 1950. Within months, Henry had left for several weeks of basic training and by the time they had rung in 1951, he had been on a flight west, missing their first anniversary together.

Henry’s homecoming came at the end of summer in 1953. Lydie had met him at Idlewild Airport in their Buick Roadmaster and drove him to a cabin just north of Ithaca near Tannenhough State Park. After a surprise welcome home party, they had spent a week making up for lost time. Bobby and Nora were conceived on a hot August night by the shores of Cayuga Lake. The sound of the lapping waves had lulled them to sleep after their ardent lovemaking. The twins arrived in 1954, and Suzy, who was the same age as the twins, became a part of their family in 1955.

Lydie watched their beautiful twins as they joined another group of children in play. Suzy and Henry retreated to the blanket. Now in the late afternoon sun, she smiled on her happy family and reached over to hold …

***

If you want to read more, go to http://getbook.at/brokentree  for the paperback and Kindle editions. You can also purchase the eBook through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and other retailers at this link: https://books2read.com/u/3JJkxE. Thank you very much for reading!

About the Author: Kellie Butler is the author of The Laurelhurst Chronicles, which has received excellent reviews.  A freelance writer and paralegal, she lives in a quaint small town in the southeastern United States. She enjoys  hiking, cooking, knitting, reading, and walks with her dog, Chip. Visit her website www.kellierbutler.com to connect with her on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram) and to sign up for her newsletter.

***

Many thanks for joining us today Kellie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines from Kitty Wilson: The Cornish Village School

It’s Thursday! That means it’s time for some ‘Opening Lines.’ This week Kitty Wilson is providing a dose of Cornish sunshine at

The Cornish Village School

 

Thank you, Jenny, for welcoming me to your blog. I wanted to share the first five hundred words of the first book in my Cornish Village School series, Breaking the Rules – because why not start at the start?

The Cornish Village School is a series of light-hearted romantic comedies based around a small primary school in the fictional coastal village of Penmenna. The first book, as featured here, tells the story of Rosy Winter, the headteacher who is faced with a fight to save her school from closure at the same time as she is trying to avoid her new twinkly-eyed neighbour, Matt. I do hope you enjoy it!

***

Blurb – Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna.  Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community to #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.

First 500 words…

Rosy jumped into her car and sped through the village as quickly as she could without knocking over small children, trying to maintain as professional a look as possible in case she was seen. Headteachers were not allowed to scowl in public, and vehicular manslaughter was obviously a no-no. She whizzed past the last stragglers from school and the thirteenth-century church on the corner, its Grade One listing and historical importance ignored by the teenagers getting off the secondary school bus and sneaking into the graveyard to have one last cigarette before reaching home.

The rows of cottages all jumbled together and daubed with the pastel colours of sage green, baby pink and ice-cream yellow – colours of Cornwall in the summer – receded into the distance as she passed the central hub of the village. The local shop, recently revamped, was now a pale slate grey and stocked with halloumi, hummus and miso paste, a nod to the gentrification of the village as Cornwall had become fashionable again and property prices had shot through the roof. It was at complete odds with its tatty neighbour, the butcher’s, which hadn’t been repainted since the nineties and had a window chock-full of community posters, yellowing and curled at the edges, inviting residents to events long since passed.

She careered past the pub and then the beach, heaving in the summer months but empty at this time of year, and the ice-cream shop, boarded up until Easter when hordes of barefooted families would suddenly appear, snaking all the way back to the sands.

Nearly home and with minutes to spare, she just had to get past the final row of fishermen’s cottages and she could pull up in her driveway and grab the one book she had forgotten this morning.

Her cottage came into sight, the late winter sun bouncing off the granite, lending warmth and making the quartz deep in the stone sparkle. The exposed walls were different from many homes in the village, most of which were prettily painted and as fresh as gin and tonic as the sun sets. Rosy’s cottage was more of a well-loved local ale, one with bits bobbing in it. Its neighbour was the same, both boldly joined together in their rebellion.

As she turned into her drive, Rosy caught sight of the higgledy-piggledyness of the roof, all uneven tiling and indents, and the stunted, windblown cherry tree in the front that exuded character and never, ever failed to make her smile. She had spent many hours wondering how the tree had become windblown, protected as it was by walls all around the front garden. There was just a little space that had been taken out to make way for a drive, and a small gate embedded in the front with its promise of a secret garden.

For her the cottage summed up Cornwall; sometimes wild and grim and grey but, in the right light, welcoming, quirky and warm. The cottage seemed honest, somehow, more in keeping…

Buy links –

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2sltOLD

Kobo UK      http://bit.ly/2JDkzOm

iBooks          https://apple.co/2sRcf7u

GooglePlay  http://bit.ly/2uehjDh

Bio – Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Social media –

https://www.facebook.com/kitty.wilson.1610

https://twitter.com/KittyWilson23

***

Many thanks for a great set of opening lines Kitty.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines with Sue McDonagh: Meet me at the Art Cafe

Opening Lines time is upon us once more. This week I’m delighted to welcome Sue McDonagh to my blog, with the first 500 words from her novel,

Meet Me at the Art Cafe.

Over to you Sue…

Meet Me at the Art Café is a standalone novel, even though we meet some of the earlier characters from Summer at the Art Café, and they are both based on the beautiful Gower peninsula, in South Wales.
Our heroine, Jo, is a single mum who has a small part in the first novel, and I was intrigued about her background and how she’d arrived in Wales. At her age, I too relied solely on pedal power for a year, although I didn’t have to tow a little boy up the hills too!
I’m still a keen cyclist – but I bought an electric bicycle last winter, and it’s been a revelation. There is no hill I cannot cycle up, even with my two replacement hips.

Upcycling, recycling Jo is quite sniffy about motorbikes though, especially when the handsome Ed runs over her beloved bicycle on his vintage motorbike. It doesn’t look like a match made in heaven, does it?
I’m sure the characters wrote their own words for this novel – particularly little Liam, and Beryl, Jo’s neighbour, who often made me laugh aloud. I’d like to go on holiday with her – but I don’t think my liver would cope too well!
I’m especially proud that ChocLit asked me to paint my own book covers! Berni Stevens, the resident cover designer and I worked together on both covers and I love how they’re different but maintain the beach theme.

Blurb

Would you take a chance on a bad boy with a leather jacket and a vintage motorbike?

That’s the question single mum Jo Morris has to ask herself when she collides with local bike mechanic Ed Griffiths on a rainy Welsh hillside. Working at the Art Café, Jo hears the gossip and is all too aware of Ed’s reputation.

But whilst he’s certainly no angel, there is something about Ed’s daredevil antics that Jo can’t ignore. And as she gets to know him better and watches the kind way he deals with her young son Liam, she begins to wonder – is there more to this ‘bad boy’ than meets the eye?

First 500 words…

The middle-aged couple had been dithering over their order for ages. Lemon drizzle, or toasted tea-cake? Jo could hardly blame them. Everything looked and tasted wonderful at The Art Café.

Pinning her ‘take your time, I have all day,’ smile on, Jo’s eyes slid towards the panoramic windows that gave the café its wonderful view over the beach. Even when the blue-green sea was beginning to rumple into colourless waves, as it was now, blurring the divide between sea and sky on the Gower Peninsula and signalling rain, the coastline was always stunning. Jo could hardly remember a time when she knew nothing about South Wales.

Winter had turned the corner into spring, and there had been a steady flow of trade. Since her boss, Lucy, was poised on the brink of TV stardom, people visited as much in the hope of seeing her, as of the food and drink they were all so proud of.

‘Hello? When you’re ready?’ The man rapped on the counter and she jumped. ‘Cappuccino and a pot of tea.’ Flicking a glance over his shoulder at his wife as she found a table, he muttered, ‘And one chocolate fudge cake.’

‘Good choice. It’s delicious.’ Jo smiled. ‘Would you like a second plate and fork, sir?’

‘I’m not sharing it,’ the man said without a trace of humour, his eyes tracking the cake as she slid it onto the plate. ‘She said she didn’t want any.’

That hadn’t been the message that Jo had understood from their overheard conversation but she clamped her lips together and got on with the order. Her mobile phone, stashed in the pocket of her apron, buzzed just as she turned the steam wand on, spitting scalding water onto her hand.

‘Ouch!’ Whirling to run the cold tap, she read St Michael’s Primary on the screen and fumbled the accept button. Her little boy’s school. They never rang.

‘Hello, this is Ms Morris,’ she whispered. ‘Is anything wrong?’

‘Our order …’ the customer reminded her, sharply.

‘I’m so sorry, I’ll have to call you back. I’m at work,’ Jo said hurriedly into the phone, cutting the call. She could barely hear the secretary anyway over the tap and the still steaming nozzle. Despite the woman’s habitual peremptory tone.

Despite her stinging hand, she assembled the tea tray with an apologetic smile to the customer – unreciprocated – and returned the call as soon as he’d sat down.

‘Everything alright Jo?’ Her other boss, Richard, looked up from the other end of the counter where he was re-stocking the cake display. The Art Café had brought together his culinary flair and Lucy’s artistic talents, resulting in an inviting eating place where you could also buy gifts and fine art. Both happily settled with their own partners, they made a great team, and Jo loved working for them.

She swallowed, knowing this wouldn’t be a popular request, but there was no-one else who could go to the school. She was on her own. ‘Richard…

***

Praise for Meet Me at the Art Cafe:

~ The author’s ability to make her characters come alive is outstanding and I urge you to buy this book and visit the beautiful, if slightly damp at times, Welsh coast, and the Art Café, once more.
~ Great story of totally relatable characters, Ed and Jo. There is a bit everything in this book, mystery, humour, love and drama! The star of the book for me though was Liam (aged 4 nearly 5), his comic comments had me giggling away.
~ Back to the Art Cafe and it is just as wonderful as the first visit – check out Summer at the Art Cafe if you missed it! – and I just adored every aspect of this book!
~ I loved this book. The story has a lovely flow, the characters are all engaging, the descriptions are realistic: in some ways the author takes a back seat and lets the story shine.

Buy Link to Meet Me at the Art Caféhttps://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B07NCTYTHB&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_K2M.CbD52NWDF

Kobo link: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/meet-me-at-the-art-cafe-choc-lit 

***

About Sue:
My career as a policewoman in the Essex Police was interrupted when I was twenty four, by ovarian cancer. A year of surgery and chemotherapy meant a successful recovery, which led to a convalescent year in the Essex Police Press Office. This suited me as I’d always fancied being a journalist, and meant that I could play with joined up writing and stationary.

When I moved to Wales to marry a man widowed by cancer and became instant mum to his two little boys, I used my Press Office skills and wrote press releases and eventually, blog posts for the various clubs and organisations I was involved with.

Art evolved into a full time occupation and I made a living teaching and sketching portraits on the spot at agricultural and seaside shows, moving into more considered work as time went on and appearing on Sky TV in 2014 in the regional finals of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year.

I now work almost exclusively to commission, but also give demonstrations and talks to art societies and other groups, which I enjoy. 2019 saw my first solo show for some years, together with the launch of my paperback, Summer at the Art Café.

In 1982, following chemotherapy, I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End in ten days, fundraising over £8000 towards a cancer scanner for St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where I was treated.

After my first hip replacement twelve years ago, I and three friends walked 45 miles across the Peak District in 16 hours and raised £10,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

When my second hip needed replacing, I thought about commemorating it with a further bonkers fundraising idea, but to everyone’s relief, found my excitement in writing.

Nearly ten years ago I learned to ride a motorbike, and now help to run Curvy Riders, a national, women only, motorbike club. I am the regional rep for the bottom half of Wales, and regularly ride out on my Honda CBF1000F.

If I balance on my bedroom windowsill, I can see the sea, a mile away. My Border terrier, Scribble, comes to work in my open-to-the-public studio/gallery in Cowbridge with me, and thinks the customers only come in to see him. Sometimes, I think that too…

Many thanks for a great blog Sue. Wonderful opening lines- and fantastic book cover too.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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