#BlogTourExtract: Death at Eden's End by Jo Allen @JoAllenAuthor @Aria_Fiction

Death at Eden’s End by Jo Allen

Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 12th December 2019

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Description

A brand new DCI Jude Satterthwaite crime mystery from the bestselling Jo Allen.

When one-hundred-year-old Violet Ross is found dead at Eden’s End, a luxury care home hidden in a secluded nook of the Lake District’s Eden Valley it’s tragic, of course, but not unexpected. Except for the instantly recognisable look in her lifeless eyes… that of pure terror.

DCI Jude Satterthwaite heads up the investigation, but as the deaths start to mount up it’s clear that he, and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran need to uncover a long-buried secret before the killer strikes again…


About Jo Allen

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

Follow Jo:

Twitter: @JoAllenAuthor | Facebook: @JoAllenAuthor


Death at Eden’s End Extract

Violet Ross was a hundred years old and lived in a nursing home, so Klemmie really shouldn’t have been surprised. That said, the old woman had always given the impression of someone who would, if it were possible, live for ever because she couldn’t bear to miss a tiny piece of someone else’s business by dying. If for no other reason, Becca herself was astonished to find it was this particularly durable old lady rather than any one of half a dozen more fragile candidates who had passed so quietly away in her chair.

She crossed the room in a few swift steps and lifted Violet’s thin wrist. The delicate skin under her fingers had acquired a strange, translucent quality and there wasn’t so much as a flutter of movement in the veins. To judge by the faint flush of warmth that lingered about her, Violet’s lifeblood had only recently stilled. ‘Run and fetch one of the nurses. I think Ellie’s in the canteen.’

The woman bolted past her, barging into the tea trolley so the crockery rattled like an alarm.

‘Klemmie!’ Mrs Hodgson’s plaintive voice drifted out into the corridor. ‘Klemmie, what about my tea?’

Becca laid Violet’s hand down where she’d found it, resting on the arm of the wing-backed chair in the window bay. In her experience the dead so often looked peaceful, but Violet managed to look outraged, as if she’d fought death all the way and he’d only defeated her by foul means. Her perfectly set white hair was slightly disarranged, as if she’d woken before dying, knowing what was happening to her but powerless to prevent it, and her finely featured face bore an expression of resistance, mouth slack and open, a faint shadow lingering beneath her open, staring eyes.

A hundred, Becca said to herself, with a measure of awe. Violet had been a force of nature. Not many people at Eden’s End had warmed to her, though Becca had and her affection had been repaid. She, along with Klemmie and a few honoured others, had been instructed to address the old lady by her Christian name whereas so many others had been kept at a distance by the rigorous formality of ‘Dr Ross’. Violet had lived to a venerable age and been blessed by good health and spirit with which to bear her increasing frailty, remaining in complete control of all her senses until the day of her painless departure. Passing away in her chair as she stared out towards the damp softness of the Eden Valley, grey and green and brown, was surely the way she would have chosen to die. Quite what she had to look so disgusted about was something of a mystery.

‘What’s going on?’ Ellie, the head nurse at Eden’s End, bustled in, her thin frame bristling with indignation, Klemmie trailing behind her. Ellie hated being disturbed on her break. ‘What’s Klemmie talking about? I can’t make sense of her when she rattles on like that. Sometimes I think she forgets how to speak English. Is Violet ill?’

Used to being patronised by Ellie, Becca stepped back. The head nurse was younger than she was and considerably less experienced, but seemed to think a mere district nurse was in her job because she wasn’t good enough to do any other, rather than through choice. ‘Not ill. I’m afraid she’s passed away. Klemmie found her just now.’

‘She should have come to find me straight away, not called you. This really isn’t your job, Becca. Haven’t you got something else to be doing? You district nurses always claim to be so busy.’

#BlogTourGuestPost: The Girl Who Came Home to Cornwall by Emma Burstall @EmmaBurstall @HoZ_Books

The Girl Who Came Home to Cornwall by Emma Burstall

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 5th December 2019

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Description

In the quaint Cornish village of Tremarnock, Chabela Penhallow arrives for a holiday and to discover more about her Cornish ancestors. But, as always with newcomers to the small seaside town, rumours start to fly about this beautiful stranger. Is there more to her than meets the eye?

Meanwhile, Rob and Liz Hart’s marriage is on the rocks, but only one of them knows the real reason. Once the secret is out, will they be able to handle the repercussions or will it destroy their life together?

For the residents of Tremarnock, the revelations will either bond or break them – forever.


About Emma Burstall

Emma Burstall was a newspaper journalist in Devon and Cornwall before becoming a full time author. Tremarnock, the first novel in her series set in a delightful Cornish village, was published in 2015 and became a top-10 bestseller.

Follow Emma:

Twitter: @EmmaBurstall | Facebook: @EmmaBurstallAuthor | Website: emmaburstall.com


Emma Burstall’s Guest Post

FROM CORNWALL TO MEXICO AND BACK AGAIN

Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the world, and I adore Mexico, so what a gift it was to be able to set my latest novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME TO CORNWALL, in both places!

I’ve always been interested in cultural differences and how easy it is to mistake them for rudeness, say, or indifference. Thus the idea of introducing a vibrant, independent, beautiful but ultimately unhappy Mexican woman to my fictional seaside village, TREMARNOCK, appealed enormously.

Would she fit in? What would she make of the locals and vice-versa, and could a trip to this very different and unfamiliar place cure her heartbreak?

Fortunately for me, the research involved several trips to Cornwall, a spell in Mexico City and also time spent in a small town called Real del Monte, known by some as ‘Little Cornwall’, which lies about two and a half hours outside the capital.

I was fascinated to discover that Cornish tin miners, who were considered among the finest hard rock miners in the world, travelled to this unprepossessing town in their droves in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to work in the silver mines.

Although few people are aware of the fact, many returned home much richer than they arrived, while others married locals, stayed on and made brand new lives for themselves.

A Methodist cemetery just outside the town is a moving testament to the hardships they faced. The graves, some no more than child-sized, bear typical Cornish surnames such as Pengelly, Skewes and Carew.

After receiving a letter from a stranger, my Mexican heroine, Chabela, is ostensibly drawn to TREMARNOCK, where all the books in my latest series are based, to discover more about her own Cornish roots. These are evident in her surname – Penhallow.

In reality, however, it soon becomes clear that researching her ancestry is a bit of an excuse. The truth is that she is running away from something, and it is a while before she is able to admit the deep down cause of her pain.

Life is a journey, and Chabela encounters many twists and turns, shocks, secrets and surprises along the way. Like so many of us, the truth is that she doesn’t even really know what she is looking for when she sets out, but you’ll have to buy the book to discover if she finds it in the end!

I hope you enjoy reading THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME TO CORNWALL as much as I enjoyed writing it. Do drop me a line at www.emmaburstall.com and let me know!


#BlogTourGuestPost: Ruby by Heather Burnside @heatherbwriter @Aria_Fiction

Ruby by Heather Burnside

Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 5th December 2019

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Description

The stronger sex.

Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

On the streets.

With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

The brothel.

But being in charge of a brothel has its down sides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?


About Heather Burnisde

Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels.

After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.

Follow Heather:

Facebook: @HeatherBurnsideAuthor | Twitter: @heatherbwriter | Website: https://heatherburnside.com/


Heather Burnside’s Guest Post

From Feeble to Feisty

Following the success of The Mark, book one in my Working Girls series, I am so excited to be releasing book two, Ruby, and I hope my readers will enjoy it. The Mark was a bit different to my previous books in that the middle class background of the main character, Maddy, is dissimilar to that of the working class girls featured in my previous books.

As a writer I like to challenge myself by trying alternative story lines as I don’t want my books to become tedious and predictable. However, I realise that Maddy isn’t necessarily the type of main character my readers have come to expect, unlike Ruby who has a hard working class upbringing.

In Ruby we see a character that is like Maddy’s polar opposite. Where Maddy is vulnerable and susceptible to errors of judgement, Ruby is feisty and fierce, and makes bold decisions. They also differ in appearance as Ruby is almost six feet tall, and is physically strong and toned whereas Maddy has a softer appearance. People are drawn to Maddy because she is approachable but a lot of people aren’t initially attracted to Ruby who has a harsh façade.

Although Ruby does bad things, in many ways I admire her, particularly her strength of character and her sense of loyalty. In fact, while writing Ruby I developed a strong affinity with the title character as she’s a tough, no-nonsense type of person but she’s also straight with people. If you upset Ruby then you’d better be prepared because she’ll come for you. She is one of my favourite characters of all the ones I have created and probably the favourite since Rita the Man Eater in the Riverhill Trilogy.

Ruby does have a heart though and throughout the novel we get to see her softer side. This is shown through interactions with her mother and youngest brother, and the way she looks after them financially. Her cash offerings help to assuage her guilty conscience for walking out of the family home at a young age and living a life that remains secret to them.

We also see her softer side in the way she behaves towards her partner, Tiffany. Not only is Ruby loving and affectionate towards her but she is also extremely protective. She would rather suffer herself than see Tiffany suffer.

Ruby’s close friendship with Crystal reveals her loyal nature and it is based on trust and loyalty. They have developed a bond since their early days as working girls and Ruby often helps Crystal out when she has got herself into a tricky situation. Although her manner towards Crystal can be brusque, it’s because she is frustrated at Crystal’s willingness to put up with maltreatment. She realises that Crystal doesn’t have her strength of character and tries to get her to toughen up.

When Ruby does bad things it is usually because she is pushed by particular people and situations, and she will always justify her actions in her own mind. But, because of her personality, when things do turn bad she comes out fighting, and God help anybody who does her wrong. She’s definitely not one to mess with. So get ready to meet Ruby because I’m about to unleash my most formidable character to date.

#BlogTourExtract: A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins @HoZ_Books @AtkinsDani

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 14th November 2019

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Description

Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible…


About Dani Atkins

Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut FRACTURED (published as THEN AND ALWAYS in North America) has been translated into sixteen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK. Dani is the author of four other bestselling novels, one of which, This Love, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2018. Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Twitter: @AtkinsDani | Facebook: @DaniAtkinsAuthor


A Million Dreams Extract

‘So what’s new? What have you been up to recently?’

‘Nothing much,’ I replied. Except preparing to get pregnant. For a horrified moment I thought I’d said the words out loud, but my sister’s face on my laptop screen looked neither stunned nor shocked, so I don’t suppose I could have.

It was morning in Australia and Karen was sitting in her preferred spot for our Skype chats, on the deck of her Sydney home against a backdrop of tropical blooms. I’d long since seen through her not-so-subtle attempt to lure me subliminally to the other side of the world with exotic foliage.

Our calls were the highlight of my week. She was half a world away, but she was still my best friend, and the ache of missing her had never gone away, not even after all these years. I still longed for the smell of her shampoo when she hugged me, the graze of her lips against my cheek when she said hello, or her hand squeezing mine for those moments when words just weren’t enough. We’d always been close, even as children, and although I’m sure we must have squabbled the way siblings do, the memory of it was buried so deeply beneath missing her, I truly couldn’t recall it.

We knew each other’s secrets: first crush; first kiss; first sneaked cigarette; first time with a boy: ‘Honestly Bethie, I don’t know what all the fuss is about; it was all over in seconds.’ That one still made me smile, although one devoted husband and two small children later, I doubt she still felt the same way. But now I was keeping the biggest, boldest secret in my entire life from her, and every time I opened my mouth I was scared it was going to come tumbling out.

‘How are Mum and Dad?’ Karen asked, momentarily disappearing from my screen as she reached for her glass of orange juice.

‘The usual,’ I replied in sister shorthand. I knew she’d be able to translate that one: Mum was busy with her book club, volunteering and amateur dramatics, while Dad was trying to pretend that retirement wasn’t boring him to death, or that his arthritis hadn’t deteriorated from slightly troublesome to seriously debilitating.

Karen pulled a face that I recognised only too well. The guilt that was never far away scored a sneaky bullseye. It was no secret that my parents had always intended to spend their retirement years in Australia. The pull was perfectly understandable: the weather was better for a man with Dad’s condition; plus, fifty percent of their

offspring lived there, with one hundred percent of their grandchildren. It was really all about the maths.

I’d always suspected that Karen had a secret master plan to move our entire family ‘down under’. It had been a clever long game. She’d fed our parents titbits of information about beachside retirement properties beside golf courses, and had even sent links to Tim about teaching jobs with funny notes attached: Didgeridoo skills not needed for this one!

Although we’d never pursued it, I could see Tim’s curiosity had been piqued. Karen knew I wanted to live by the coast again – and there was plenty of that in Australia. So mission (semi) accomplished. Or at least it might have been, until there was a persistent stomach spasm that wouldn’t go away, and a perpetual sickness that caused the weight to drop from Tim almost overnight…and suddenly all talk of living elsewhere disappeared. We were much more focused on just living at all.

#BlogTourExtract: Country Lovers by Fiona Walker @fionawalkeruk @HoZ_Books

Country Lovers by Fiona Walker

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 14th November 2019

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Description

They say you should never go back, but glamorous Ronnie Percy did just that, to the home she ran away from with her lover.

But not everyone is finding it easy to forgive and forget.

Daughter Pax, fighting for custody of her small son as her own marriage disintegrates, is furious to have to spend New Year’s Eve waiting for some stranger her mother has invited to help run the family stud farm.

Even more annoyed is the staunchly loyal stud head groom, Lester. Does Ronnie think he’s lost his touch with the horses? And anyway, who is this so-called Horsemaker, Luca O’Brien? Why does he seem to be running away from something? And what is the true story of his relationship with grey stallion Beck, once destined for the Olympics, now broken and unrideable, screaming his anger from the Compton Magna stables.

Passionate, sexy, gripping, laced with her trademark wisdom and humour, this is bestselling Fiona Walker at her dazzling best.


About Fiona Walker

Fiona Walker is the author of eighteen novels, from tales of flat-shares and clubbing in nineties London to today’s romping, rural romances set amid shires, spires and stiles. In a career spanning over two decades, she’s grown up alongside her readers, never losing her wickedly well-observed take on life, lust and the British in love. She lives in Warwickshire, sharing a slice of Shakespeare Country with her partner, their two daughters and a menagerie of animals.

Social Media:

fionawalker.com
@fionawalkeruk
facebook.com/fiona.walker.16568


Country Lover Extract

Blue-eyed, ruddy-faced and athletically seductive, Signe was like a lot of horse professionals Luca knew, who rode hard all day and viewed recreational sex as the after-party. They were cut from the same cloth, nomadic work riders who followed the competition seasons round all continents, love and commitment top-shelved. Probably in her early thirties, she was old enough to know what she was doing and was good company, with her melodic voice, upbeat attitude and ready laugh. The perfect no-strings fling was being dangled in front of his eyes, had he not been so tied up in knots, counting the days until he was free from his royal noose.

Keeping his head down and grafting harder than ever, Luca was determined to stick it out. He was here to help the most talented horse he’d ever worked with get to the Olympics – and he was being paid a lot to do it. His only obstacle was the lad who would be riding him there.

‘Golden boy fall off again today?’ asked Signe, unbuttoning his shirt as deftly as she plaited a mane.

‘Yep. That’s five days in a row. They’re competing again tomorrow, so they are.’

‘Your accent is such a turn-on.’ Her kiss tasted of vodka. He liked that. Grey Goose, the kick pure as sea surf in this hotbed of fake rain, steel high rise and plastic trees.

Coming up for air and turning away to refill their glasses, he dwelt reluctantly on the memory of the boy at his last competition, unable to get the horse out of the collecting ring, dumped in the silica sand at the FEI official’s feet. Luca had worked the stallion for an hour beforehand, privileged to be balanced on a fast-thinking powerhouse, the rocket detonating over practice fences, a warhorse ready to lay down his life to win, his trust total. But when the boy had taken over, his skills sketchy and his nerves tight, his faith was not in the horse or in Luca, but in a birthright and advantage beyond their reach. Luca couldn’t have done any more to help, short of brainwashing the stallion to believe that the kid could ride.

 ‘Mishaal needs to learn more feel.’ He let the second vodka burn into him. ‘Right now, he thinks showjumping is just about steering and staying on.’ The thirteenth child of a high-ranking royal, the young prince was a go-cart driver with a Grand Prix ego.

‘If anyone can teach feel, you can, yes?’ Signe slapped her small palm against Luca’s, fingers interlacing to draw his hand to her mouth, bonbon blue eyes gazing up into his. He sensed she knew exactly how cute she looked.

‘As Mishaal keeps reminding me, his showjumping coach is a four-time gold-medallist from California.’ He gently removed his forefinger from her mouth, its soft, wet suck too fast-track. ‘I’m just here to warm up the saddle for him.’

‘You’re way more than that.’ Signe was indignant. ‘You are the Horsemaker. Does golden boy have any idea how lucky that makes him?’

Luca was grateful to her, cupping her face, tipping his twice-broken nose against her upturned one, then ducking away from another kiss to finish his vodka shot.


Blog Tour Q&A: The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok @HoZ_Books @MsRachaelBlok

The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok

Goodreads | Amazon

Description

Who really killed Leo Fenton?

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.

Ben’s girlfriend Ana Seabrook has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heat wave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?

St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.


Rachael Blok’s Q&A

Can you introduce yourself and your books for everyone please? 

I write the DCI Jansen series, which are part psychological thriller, part detective novels, set in St Albans. I say psychological thriller, because whilst DCI Jansen is tasked with solving the crime, the other voices in the novels come from the characters involved with the crime. It is this which provides the psychological element.

What inspired you to write this book? 

The novel was inspired by a number of different ideas. I read a story about a body that had been buried overnight in a graveyard, left in an unmarked grave, a few years ago. I loved this idea, and I buzzed with all the elements of stories that could motivate such an action. This became the opening to The Scorched Earth, and whilst it started the novel, I was left searching for how to develop the story; I usually look to something which I feel some way involved with, which leads to the next answer.

Did you base any of the characters on anyone you know personally? 

I didn’t base any of the characters on people I know, but I have borrowed the odd story. One of the characters in the novel is a victim of suicide, and I grew up with someone who killed themselves in a similar manner to the suicide in the novel. This is not their story. However, when I found out she had died, it was upsetting, and I wondered about the circumstances which may lead someone to take their own life; I found the idea writing itself into the narrative of The Scorched Earth.

What can we find you doing when you’re not writing?

I’m a mum to two young children and also a teacher. Since I’ve been writing full-time, I’ve been lucky enough not to have to teach; however, I do volunteer weekly in primary schools to help with literacy. The funding crisis in schools means that any help is gratefully received.

Are you currently working on anything new? 

I’m writing the third novel in the series at the moment, which will be out in November 2020. The fourth will follow the year afterwards. DCI Jansen is quite busy!

Have you ever considered writing a different genre? Have you ever written a different genre, if so what was it? 

I have promised my son I will write a children’s novel. He’s helped me plot it out, and I’m some of the way in. It’s taking a back seat to the novels I’m contracted to write, but hopefully I’ll finish it at some point next year.

What books have you recently read and enjoyed? 

I love reading, and really enjoyed The Silence of the Girls. I also read The Lost Man over the summer and loved it. Sally Rooney’s Normal People was brilliant, and I can’t wait for the next Susie Steiner novel.

 Have you done any other jobs than being an author? What was your favourite? 

Before writing I was an English teacher in a boys’ comprehensive in London. It was a brilliant job. I think you enjoy different jobs at different times of life. I would struggle to work the hours now that I used to work, as having young children soaks up your day, so I’m really lucky that now I get to write, with far more flexible hours.

How did you celebrate your first book being published? 

On my first publication day I had a huge launch. We held it in an old court house, with a jail! I was lucky that so many friends and family came along. We celebrated until the early hours of the next day. This time round we’re celebrating in Waterstones, and I’m looking forward to it enormously.

What does your typical day look like when you’re writing? 

After the school run, I write at home, with lots of coffee. I’m lucky that I know a few writers where I live, so we have a supportive community. When the walls start closing in, or a plot line is tricky, there are always people around for tea or wine, or to go for a run.

Finally, my out of the box question. Would you rather explore a new planet, or the deepest parts of the ocean? Why?

I’d definitely choose a new planet. I’d be absolutely terrified, but flying into the stars is the stuff of dreams!

#BlogTourExtract: The Girl I Left Behind by Andie Newton @Aria_Fiction @AndieNewton

The Girl I Left Behind by Andie Newton

Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 3rd October 2019

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Description

What would you risk to save your best-friend?

As a young girl, Ella never considered that those around her weren’t as they appeared. But when her childhood best-friend shows Ella that you can’t always believe what you see, Ella finds herself thrown into the world of the German Resistance.

On a dark night in 1941, Claudia is taken by the Gestapo, likely never to be seen again, unless Ella can save her. With the help of the man she loves, Ella must undertake her most dangerous mission yet and infiltrate the Nazi Party.

Selling secrets isn’t an easy job. In order to find Claudia, Ella must risk not only her life, but the lives of those she cares about.

Will Ella be able to leave behind the girl of her youth and step into the shoes of another?


About Andie Newton

Andie Newton is an American writer living in Washington State with her husband and two boys. She writes female-driven historical fiction set in WWII. The Girl I Left Behind is her first novel. She would love to say she spends her free time gardening and cooking, but she’s killed everything she’s ever planted and set off more fire alarms than she cares to admit. Andie does, however, love spending time with her family, ultra trail running, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Follow Andie:

Twitter: @AndieNewton | Facebook: @newtonauthor


The Girl I Left Behind Extract

Nuremberg

I hurried through the crowded streets of Nuremberg, checking my watch every few seconds as the hands moved closer and closer to seven o’clock. The League of German Girls didn’t wait for late arrivals, and if I missed Frau Dankwart’s opening remarks, I’d hear about it from Aunt Bridget, who’d die from embarrassment if I showed up tardy again.

I had one job to do this evening, and that was to close up my aunt’s antique shop in time to make my League meeting. I didn’t account for an unexpected customer who couldn’t make up her mind, and then having the terrible misfortune of using my aunt’s cramped office to change into my League uniform.

I rounded a corner, getting ready to cross the street, but then bumped right into a child, knocking the poor boy to the ground. He lay paralyzed with fear, eyes wide and unblinking, with his little hands clinging to his sides. I went to help him up, and that’s when the Yellow Star sewn on his left breast shone up like a beam of light in the gloaming just before his curfew.

His mother screamed silently, hands to her mouth for the attention he caused, probably wondering if I was going to alert the policeman directing traffic nearby in the square. ‘It wasn’t his fault,’ I said to his mother. I looked back at the policeman who hadn’t seen a thing. ‘Go!’ And they walked into a sea of foot traffic, disappearing between the bodies.

I ran across the street, only that same policeman who’d been directing traffic had blown his whistle. Someone else took his post, and he walked up on me, hand gripping his billy club close to his side. I closed my eyes briefly, mad at myself, knowing I shouldn’t have been running.

I smoothed my tie flat.

‘Who are you running from?’ He reached for my elbow, but I’d unbuttoned my coat just enough to show him my League uniform—thick blue tie and white shirt—which had actually started to dull, much to Auntie’s dismay.

‘I’m late for my League meeting. I’m sorry.’

Bystanders shot me strange looks, some probably hoping I’d be dragged away, give them a sight to see. He looked at his watch, tapping the crystal. ‘At this hour?’ He squinted.

I gulped, knowing his questions could go on indefinitely if he wanted. I tried not to sound impatient. ‘I work at my aunt’s shop. This is the first time I had to close and make a League meeting right after.’ I hung my head down. ‘I should have planned better.’

‘What shop?’ he tipped his helmet up, looking down the street and past the Nazi flags hanging above shop windows.

I pointed. ‘The antique shop just there. Next to the old beer cellar with the red door—’

‘I know of it.’ He sounded bored, and then quickly spotted someone else to go after, an old man with a cane on the other side of the street who moved much too fast for his age. ‘Be off now,’ he said, pulling out his stick and heading across the street.

I turned away, not wanting to see what was about to come next.

I took a deep breath once I’d made it to Frau Dankwart’s house. All was quiet. The rest of the girls were already inside. I straightened my jacket and smoothed my hair back if only to look less hurried. I went to knock on her tall black door and was suddenly thrown back to the first day I’d met her.

My parents had only just died when my aunt told me she’d enrolled me in the League of German Girls—the female branch of the Hitler Youth. She said my mother had broken the law since membership was compulsory. When I told her I wasn’t a National Socialist she shushed me. That was five years ago. Now, it was only a matter of weeks before I turned eighteen, and I’d graduate out of the League.

#BlogTourSpotlight: The Wicked Lord’s Mistress by Scarlett Jameson @rararesources

The Wicked Lord’s Mistress by Scarlett Jameson

Goodreads

The Wicked Lord’s Mistress is set in the late Victorian period (1886) for fans of upstairs/downstairs dramas such as Downton Abbey and steamy romances. It explores the continuing love story between Lily, a lady’s maid at Torrington Hall, and a handsome, mysterious aristocratic hero called Lord Edgar Wilson.

Lily is surrounded by challenges from all sides. She is being blackmailed by the evil Mallkins, she has a secret past that she is trying to hide, and her forbidden love affair with Lord Wilson grows more risky every day. Can their lusty affair transform into the tender and lasting love that Lily craves? And given the differences in their class, is a happy ending possible for them?

Then a new enemy comes into Lily’s life, someone who is determined to destroy her. Lily finds herself facing the greatest challenge of her life, and hopes that Lord Wilson will be her hero.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US


About Scarlett Jameson

Scarlett Jameson works in publishing by day and by night enjoys writing steamy historical romances. A lover of all things Victorian, she lives in London with her cat. 

You can subscribe to Scarlett’s newsletter here https://tinyletter.com/scarlettjameson

#BlogTourExtract: Outreach by Shelley Berry @rararesources @ShellyBerryUK

Outreach by Shelly Berry

Publisher: The Book Guild
Publication Date: 25th September 2019

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Guild

Description

When Emily was offered a new job in London, she was sure that her life was about to change – new friends, a career in the big city and the boyfriend she always wanted.

Her new life turns out to be more complicated than she expected. Her flat mates don’t understand her. Her colleagues mock everything about her. Even her father doesn’t support her. The only person who offers her any encouragement is David.

He’s married. He’s her manager. To Emily it’s clear that they have something special. As their relationship develops, everyone seems to want to sabotage their chances.

But some things are meant to be…


About Shelly Berry

Author Photo credit Bianca Kirby.

Shelly Berry lives in Waltham Forest, London. Having gained a BA Joint Honours Degree in Visual Art and Sociology at Keele University and a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, she has since worked in the public sector with vulnerable adults and children – including those affected by mental illness, drug and alcohol misuse, disability, criminal behaviour, homelessness and domestic and sexual abuse. During this time, Shelly developed and nurtured her love of writing. As well as writing fiction, she has previously written for a number of blogs and now writes for the Waltham Forest Echo.

Social Media Links –

Twitter @ShellyBerryUK | Facebook | Instagram


Outreach Extract

Page 30 – Emily visits recovering drug user Ian with her mentor Fran, and finds his hostility towards her more than a little challenging…

“Look, Ian, I know you find it difficult to trust professionals. But I promise we have no interest in sharing anything you tell us with anyone else, especially anyone who might use information about you to your detriment. Okay?”

The room became quiet, the only noise coming from the rumble of traffic from the street below and a muffled television from a flat somewhere above. I looked up from my hands, still clasping my bag, to find Ian looking at me with cold eyes. I stared back, feigning the confidence that was so desperately absent. His gaze slid back to Fran before returning to me.

“Okay. But I’m warning you, don’t fuck me about…”

“Great. Now let’s move on…”

Fran started to scribble on her pad. I turned in my seat to face her, hoping to shift the focus from myself to my colleague.

“So, the drinking. When did this start again?”

Ian sighed and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. The dirt under his nails and nicotine-stained fingers turned my stomach. I swallowed quietly and tried to focus on the conversation. Fran seemed to maintain eye contact with ease whilst making the occasional note, nodding empathically from time to time. I felt myself become invisible as they became engrossed in their conversation. My mind started to wander as Fran probed Ian further. I just hoped that not everyone who we worked with was this difficult. And dirty. And why hadn’t Fran said anything about the way he spoke to me? Was everyone going to be so hostile, even threatening? My eyes began to prickle. I could hear my dad now, telling me what an idiot I was for thinking I could ever do this kind of job.

“Em?”

Fran’s voice cut through to my consciousness. My head jerked in her direction and I blinked. She was standing and looking at me with her crooked smile. I glanced at Ian who was still sunk in his chair, busily rolling another cigarette.

“Yes?” I stammered.

“Are you ready to go?”

“Sure.”

I winced at the enthusiasm in my voice as I got to my feet and swung my bag over my shoulder. I smiled brightly at Fran before heading to the door.

“Er, what’s yer name?”

I stopped in my tracks and turned slowly towards the enquiry. Ian was staring at me, his gaze not quite high enough to meet mine. I cleared my throat.

“Um, Emily.”

“Emily. Right.” His eyes roamed around the room for what felt like an age before they rested on the pile of books nearest him.

“So, do you read?”

I frowned and looked at Fran. She opened her eyes wide and nodded her encouragement.

“Er, yes. Yes, I do.”

“Have you read any of the Millennium series?” he fired back at me. Shit, another test I was bound to fail. I hadn’t even heard of it.

“You know, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and all that,” Fran prompted.

“Oh, yes! I mean, no, I’ve not read it, but I’ve heard of it. It’s supposed to be pretty good,” I gushed, enthused more by my recognition of the name than my desire to read it. Ian’s face softened.

“Good? They’re fucking excellent,” he said as he leant forward in his chair, carefully extracting a paperback from the bottom of his nearest stack. Stiffly he stood up. His T-shirt hung loosely from his bony shoulders. He was even skinnier than I had imagined. Popping his roll-up in his mouth, he held out the book towards me. He glanced up at my face before looking back down at his offering.

“Here. Take it.”

I looked at the book blankly before glancing at Fran. Instinctively I stepped back.

“Oh no, it’s okay. You keep it. I’ll borrow it from the library.”

Ian snorted.

“Well, why not save yourself the bother and take this one. I’ve got no use for it now. Go on.”

I looked at Fran again. Another test.

“Um, we’re not supposed to accept gifts from service users,” I muttered.

Fran smiled warmly.

“It’s okay. It’s just a loan, isn’t it, Ian?”

Ian shrugged.

“If you want to call it that, sure.” He looked me again. “Look, just take it, yeah? It’s only a book. It won’t give you AIDS or anything.”

He coughed a laugh, whether at his own joke or my reddening face I wasn’t sure. I hesitated before stepping forwards and taking it from his hand.

“Thanks,” I whispered. Ian’s frame relaxed.

“Welcome,” he muttered as he wandered back to his chair. Fran watched him for a moment before turning to me.

“Right. Well, let’s go.” She smiled at me and winked. “See you, Ian,” she called over her shoulder as she strode out of the room. I followed her silently, my eyes on the carpet. She let me pass her on the balcony and shut the door behind her. I breathed deeply as I walked towards the lift, glad of the air which, although not fresh, was certainly an improvement on the stale atmosphere inside Ian’s flat. As I pressed the button for the lift, Fran trotted up behind me.

“You okay?”

I turned to look at her. The shadow of a line had appeared between her brows and her deep brown eyes were wide. Her concern made me want to cry.

“Sure,” I croaked. She smiled warmly.

“Okay then, hen. Well, I don’t know about you but I’m parched. Shall we grab a quick drink before our next visit?” Her smile turned into a frown. “Strictly non-alcoholic though. Even I don’t drink this early, and an hour with Ian is enough to put anyone off their beer.”

She playfully poked me with her elbow as she stepped into the lift. A wave of exhaustion hit me as I watched her fish her mobile out of her jeans pocket. She glanced up at me and grinned.

“So are you coming? Or are you taking the stairs?”

#BlogTourGuestPost: The House That Sat Down Trilogy by Alice May @rararesources @AliceMay_Author

The House That Sat Down Trilogy by Alice May

Publication Date: 30th July 2019

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Description

Inspired by a true story, The House That Sat Down Trilogy is a tale of triumph over tragedy. It is an astonishing account of sudden, first-world homelessness in the heart of the New Forest, and the unexpected consequences. Written entirely from a mother’s point of view, following the collapse of her family’s home, it is an uplifting and positive read in spite of the subject matter, with a thread of wry humour throughout. Follow this ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey of survival and self discovery as she reels from disaster, before picking herself up and coming back stronger and wiser than before.
Packed with humorous observations about what it is like to live in a tent in your garden with your husband and four children after a significant part of your house falls down out of the blue one day, this story takes you from the depths of despair right through to the satisfying heights of success against the odds, with lots of tea and cakes on the way.

Follow this crazy family as they cope with disaster in their own truly unique and rather mad way, and celebrate each small triumph along the way with them.


About Alice May

I am a multi-tasking parent to four not-so-small children, and I am fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet.  We live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country. Our house began to fall down out of the blue one day, which resulted in the whole family living in a tent in the back garden for quite some time, while we worked out how to rebuild our home.

A few years afterwards, I decided to write a book and, once I started, I found I couldn’t stop.

Inspired by true-life events ‘Accidental Damage – tales from the house that sat down’ wouldn’t leave me alone until it was written.

Within six months of self-publishing my novel, I was delighted to learn that it had won two ‘Chill with a Book Awards’. This was a massive honour and motivated me to continue writing. Accidental Damage became the first book in a trilogy.

The Omnibus edition of all three books in the House That Sat Down Trilogy is now available via Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.AliceMay.weebly.com | Facebook www.facebook.com/AliceMayAuthor/ | Twitter: @AliceMay_Author | Instagram: alicemay_author_artist


Alice May’s Guest Post

Creativity Can Heal

The paintings from The House That Sat Down

By Alice May

Watching your house fall down unexpectedly, and then having to live in the garden with your children for eighteen months while you rebuild it, teaches you a great deal about yourself.

My experience with The House That Sat Down taught me exactly how important time engaged in creative pursuits can be. It is a very effective way to manage stress. All of my life – leading up to the day I stood on my drive and watched in shock as my cob cottage disintegrated – I had subconsciously used painting as a way to manage my work/life balance.

The normal stresses and strains of daily life increased exponentially once the family moved, lock, stock and barrel, into a tent on the scrubby bit of lawn at the back of what remained of our crumbling cottage.

The emotional trauma from that time was immense, but there was no time to deal with my feelings. I had to focus on the children. Making sure they were warm, dry, clean, fed and happy. Supressing my shock, fear and despair was essential in order to reassure them that everything would be alright.

The luxury of personal emotions or expressive creativity to work through stress was out of the question. Trust me! Painting, whilst living in a tent in the garden with four kids is not a practical activity.  Thus, all those dark feelings were stuffed into my own little, imaginary Pandora’s Box. In went anger, utter terror, misery, desolation and hopelessness. Then there was the guilt. That was the most infinitely injuring ingredient of all in that dark, sludgy, festering pool of pain. Nothing about the situation we were in was my fault, but that didn’t stop me from blaming myself.

It wasn’t until after the physical crisis was over, once the house was rebuilt and the family safe, that the emotional invoice for what had happened finally arrived. I needed to deal with all that sticky, black, hidden pain before it destroyed me. I couldn’t speak about it, I simply couldn’t find the words, but I had to express it somehow. Which is how my ‘little creative hobby’ came to my rescue.

I took the tops off my paint pots and opened my heart. All that pain poured out onto huge, white canvases. Black acrylic paint came first, then Prussian blue, deep violet and the darkest of greens. It felt as though all the anger, bitterness, fear and guilt, that had been lodged around my heart for so long, ran down my arms and through the paintbrush. Once it was out there, as soon as the paint had dried, those damaging emotions were trapped. All that hurt was on the outside of me, where I could see it, analyse it and even control it. More importantly, it wasn’t rotting away inside me any longer.

My heart felt lighter and, as I continued to paint, I began to feel the first sensations of genuine happiness that I’d experienced in over two years.

My sense of humour returned as well, and the paintings I created changed from intensely brooding, dark pieces into lighter, brighter, happier work. I realised how very powerful creative activities are as a self-care tool. They can play a very important role in maintaining positive mental health.

My personal experience of healing through art is a significant part of the inspiration behind the three novels that make up The House That Sat Down Trilogy – Accidental Damage, Restoration and Redemption. It is the fundamental reason I spend so much time travelling to clubs and groups to talk about that time in my life.

Having worked for the NHS for twenty years, as a GP practice manager, I would always encourage anyone suffering from mental health issues to go and see their doctor.

But, for those of us merely looking to establish a self-care toolkit as part of a healthy life style, perhaps we should all be looking for a creative outlet. One that can help us to sustain a positive outlook on life. The nice thing is that there are so many things to choose from and the search for the right one can be a fun and beneficial activity in itself.

Why not try a pottery class, woodwork, metalwork, creative writing or maybe flower arranging, crochet or embroidery?  The list goes on and on…

Love

Alice