#BlogTour! #Extract from ‘Spiral into Darkness’ by Joseph Lewis (@jrlewisauthor) @rararesources

Today as part of the ‘Spiral into Darkness’ blog tour, I will be sharing an extract from the book. Many thanks to RaRaResources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Before we get to the extract, however, here is a little bit more about the book:

He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spiral-Into-Darkness-Joseph-Lewis-ebook/dp/B07L15328K

US – https://www.amazon.com/Spiral-Into-Darkness-Joseph-Lewis-ebook/dp/B07L15328K

Author Bio 

Joseph Lewis has written five books: Caught in a Web; Taking Lives; Stolen Lives; Shattered Lives, and Splintered Lives. His sixth, Spiral into Darkness, debuts January 17, 2019 from Black Rose Writing. Lewis has been in education for 42 years and counting as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. He is currently a high school principal and resides in Virginia with his wife, Kim, along with his daughters, Hannah and Emily. His son, Wil, is deceased.

Lewis uses his psychology and counseling background to craft his characters which helps to bring them to life. His books are topical and fresh and appeal to anyone who enjoys crime thriller fiction with grit and realism and a touch of young adult thrown in.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /

Extract.

Introduction of a Main Character

Brian is one of my favorite characters because he has heart and depth.

 

 

As he did most often, Brian sat cross-legged on the floor, leaning against both the couch and Jeremy’s leg. As much as Jeremy and Vicky could tell, Brian never strayed too far from either of them in the two months he had lived with them. Yes, he got along just fine with the five other boys. They were best friends. He had known them long before he had moved in after his parents’ death. He would go hunting and fishing with Brett and George, and work the horses and shovel the driveway with George. He started and played on the same basketball team as Brett, Billy, and Randy, and he shared a room with Bobby by mutual choice. Still, where Jeremy or Vicky was, he was not too far away. And where Brian was, Bobby could be found.

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#BlogTour! #Extract – The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts (@RobertsElaine11) @Aria_fiction

Today I am excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Elaine Roberts’ new release; ‘The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War’ with an extract. Many thanks to Aria for having me involved, and congratulations to Elaine on the publication of her new book. Enjoy!

Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous. 

Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory… 

It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work. 

The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…

Buy now from Amazon

Extract.

Molly glanced through the large window, into a small square room. The soft grey walls were bare, apart from the round, oak-framed clock, sitting fairly high up, telling her it was quarter to seven. She breathed a sigh of relief. There were three desks in there, each covered with paperwork. A blue book with a red spine was on one of the desks, next to a pad of lined paper. Glasses sat open, on top of the pad. Molly fleetingly wondered if they were his. A calendar sat on a shelf over one desk, with a family photograph standing proudly next to it. Underneath the shelf, stood three cream bottles, each of them a different size, but the largest was no more than six inches tall.

The man opened the office door, stood aside and indicated for her to walk in.

Molly nodded and stepped past him, making sure no contact was made. She had no desire to get off on the wrong foot. She shook her head. He had barely spoken to her and she didn’t know his name, so how could she do anything to upset him?

‘Is everything all right, Miss Cooper?’

The man’s deep voice broke into her wayward thoughts, startling her back to reality. ‘Yes, yes of course.’

He smiled and immediately his face looked younger. She momentarily wondered how old he was, thirty maybe. There was also the niggling question of why he hadn’t signed up to the Great War.

He pulled out a dark wooden chair from under one of the desks and indicated for her to sit down, before quickly pulling out another for himself. ‘It can be difficult for people when they first arrive, because it’s very noisy, with all the machinery and everything.’

Molly noticed the window for the first time. No sunshine was going to break through the thick dirt that coated it. She tilted her head slightly. Was that a crack that ran down the glass? She squinted as she stared at it. It was hard to tell, but maybe it was the dust locked onto the glass. Her mother immediately jumped into her thoughts and a smile formed on her lips. She would have had a bucket of water and a cloth on it within a blink of an eye. That is, once she got over the fact her daughter was sitting in this dingy office.

‘Right, Miss Cooper.’ The man shuffled some paperwork around the desk, before opening one of the drawers and slamming it shut again. ‘We just have some form-filling to do and then I’ll get someone to take you to the lockers, where you can change into the rather fetching uniform of overalls and cap.’

Molly’s blonde ponytail bobbed, flicking the back of her neck as she nodded. Her hand went up to smooth it down and she caught her fingers in the bright red ribbon tied around it. It had been gifted to her mother as a child, when she had nothing. She treasured it, claiming it brought her and her husband, Jack, together. Molly often borrowed it, under the threat of death if she lost it. She regretted her ponytail, wishing she’d taken the time to put it in a bun. It would have been more elegant, as well as making her look older than her twenty-three years. Molly realised she was worrying unnecessarily, as he didn’t look at her. She sighed. There was a time before the war when she would have enjoyed a little innocent flirting with a man of his calibre, but those days were long gone. They had disappeared with Tony.

The man suddenly looked up at her and gave a little cough. ‘When we’ve finished the paperwork, someone will show where to get changed. It’s what we call the dirty area of the factory. You’ll remove your clothing and let your hair down. There can’t be anything metal about your person, including any material covered buttons or jewellery.’ He held out some forms and a pen. ‘If you can just read and sign these, then we’ll get you settled.’

Molly reached out. Their fingers brushed against each other and she snatched her hand away.

He stared at her for a moment, before dropping the papers on the desk.

Molly picked up the pen and quickly signed the forms.

He coughed again and colour rose in his cheeks as he looked down again at his paperwork. ‘If you’re wearing a corset, I’m afraid that will also have to be removed. You will be allocated a locker to store your things, then you will cross over to the clean area, where you will put on your overall and mob cap. Your hair must be completely covered by the cap.’

Her hand immediately reached for the gold heart around her neck and she swished it back and forth. Colour rose in Molly’s cheeks. Her mind started racing at this unexpected information. Would she have to undress in front of people? Her face was burning at the thought.

About the author.

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until circumstances made her re-evaluate her life, and she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. She was thrilled when many more followed and started to believe in herself.

As a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Women Writers & Journalists, Elaine attends many conferences, workshops, seminars and wonderful parties. Meeting other writers gives her encouragement, finding most face similar problems.

Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting. Without her wonderful family and supportive friends, she knows the dream would never have been realised.

#BlogTour! #Extract from Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn (@DarcieBoleyn) @canelo_co

Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from ‘Love at the Northern Lights’ by Darcie Boleyn. Many thanks to Ellie and Canelo for asking me to be involved in the blog tour. Enjoy!

Climbing out the window in her dress and tiara wasn’t exactly how Frankie imagined her wedding day…’

Runaway bride Frankie Ashford hops a plane to Norway with one goal in mind – find her estranged mother and make peace with the past. But when a slip on the ice in Oslo lands her directly in Jonas Thorsen’s viking-strong arms, her single-minded focus drifts away in the winter winds.

When it comes to romance Jonas knows that anything he and Frankie share has an expiration date – the British heiress has a life to return to in London that’s a world away from his own. But family is everything to Jonas and, as the one man who can help Frankie find the answers she’s seeking, he’ll do whatever it takes to help her reunite with her mother.

Now, as Christmas draws closer and the northern lights work their magic Frankie and Jonas will have to make a choice…play it safe or risk heartbreak to take a chance on love.

Extract

In the airport cafe, Frankie tucked her suitcase under the table then wrapped her hands around the mug of coffee. She could see the entrance to the toilets from here and winced every time someone went in or came out, wondering if she’d see someone emerge carrying the tote bag of treats. The light was fading outside and she realized she had no idea what time it was or how long she’d been sitting there, lost in her thoughts.

Her bones ached and she wished she could curl up under the table and sleep. Instead, she picked up the almond croissant she’d purchased and ate it quickly, washing each mouthful down with coffee, aware that she needed to put something into her empty belly.

Soon, the croissant and coffee raised her blood sugar and the headache she’d blamed the tiara for began to fade. But there was still a question burning inside her: what was she going to do now?

‘What time’s your flight?’ The woman at the next table spoke into her mobile. ‘Uh… aha… right. Well, see you when we get there.’

She cut the call then looked at Frankie.

‘My brother.’ She waved the mobile. ‘He’s getting married in Cuba next week, so we’re heading out there early to take in some of the sights first.’

‘Cuba?’

‘Yes and I’m so excited. It’s my first holiday with my boyfriend too.’ Her eyes sparkled and her cheeks were rosy, presumably with the first flush of love.

‘That’s nice. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.’

‘Thank you. Where are you going?’ The woman’s eyes flickered over Frankie’s tiara and she touched it self-consciously. It probably did look strange with her casual attire.

Frankie opened her mouth to answer, hoping something would spring to mind, but a tall sandy-haired man arrived at the woman’s table and she jumped up and hugged him, so Frankie was spared the embarrassment of admitting she had no idea. The couple gathered their bags then left the cafe arm in arm, leaving Frankie staring at the table they’d vacated. It must be wonderful to truly love someone. Sure, she’d enjoyed spending time with Rolo in the early days and they’d had some fun – in fact, she’d hoped it was love that she felt for him – but she’d never experienced a burning need to see him, to touch him and to be close to him. In reality, they’d been a lot more like polite acquaintances than lovers about to marry. Perhaps that had been because she’d known she didn’t really love him and had been holding back. And what had been holding her back? Not just a lack of love and desire but her need for independence. Her need to experience freedom, to know what it was like to be happy with who she was and what she was doing. Had she ever really had that sense of personal satisfaction?

No.

Not in her job. Not in her relationship. And certainly not in her home life, where even though her father had tried hard to fill the gap left by her mother, it had been there… a chasm of emptiness and sadness, a constant awareness that the woman who should have loved her more than anyone else had walked away from her and not cared whether she lived or died. It had also, unsurprisingly, been laced with a bitter anger.

Until she dealt with that, Frankie realized, she would never be able to move on and be happy.

She drained her coffee then opened her bag and pulled out her purse. She had a variety of credit cards and some cash, so she could easily book a flight. At the back of her purse, folded over, was something she carried with her. Always. She pulled it out and unfolded it, then pressed it flat on the table and gazed at the image of a snow-covered landscape. It was dark and the trees cast bushy shadows across the ground. It made Frankie shiver just imagining how cold it must be there. But above the snow, brightening the dark sky with swathes of luminous green, blue and purple, were the northern lights.

Every time Frankie had looked at this postcard over the years since she’d turned eighteen, something had tugged at her heart and made her yearn to see these lights in person. They were beautiful, mystical, magical. Even though she’d read about them and knew their true cause, Frankie still believed that there was magic in nature if it could create such beauty. And, of course, she wondered if her mother had seen these lights… if she had thought of her daughter as she watched the shimmering display.

Her mother had sent cards every year on birthdays and at Christmas when she was growing up. They had been pretty cards featuring beautiful paintings but the messages inside had been brief, almost impersonal, as if her mother had either not cared to write more or had been holding back. However, now that she thought about it and tried to rationalize it, perhaps her mother had cared if she was alive and well. She’d noted every changing of the year in her daughter’s life, hadn’t she? And yet… how much did sending a card really prove? Was her mother actually just assuaging her conscience and nothing more?

Frankie wanted to believe that it was more than just that but what proof did she have other than cards?

She turned the card over and ran her eyes over the familiar words, words she knew without needing to read them, but still, looking at them again helped her confirm that they were real and not a figment of her imagination.

[display postcard]

Dear Frances,

Happy 18th Birthday. I knew this day would come and yet, I cannot believe how the years have flown. Now that you are an adult, I feel able to give you my address. Please know that you are welcome to come and visit me anytime you wish. I would love to see you. However, I understand if you do not want to come. I will not contact you again unless I hear from you, because I don’t want to trouble you if you would prefer not to hear from me.

Yours truly,

Freya X

[/display]

The postcard had arrived in a sealed envelope, presumably to prevent Grandma from reading the message, and Freya’s address was printed in the top-right corner, leaving her to make the decision. She had not gone when she was eighteen, nor when she was twenty-one, nor when she turned twenty-nine. It had seemed better to leave things as they were, to build her own life and not rake up the past. She didn’t want to hurt her father or upset her grandmother, and knew that visiting her mother could well do both. Her grandmother was a stern, aloof woman, but she had always been around – she had not left Frankie behind – and because of that, Frankie owed her loyalty – although her behaviour earlier today had made Frankie question her grandmother’s motives. Her father had been a kind and caring parent, but he had a haunted quality about him, as if he’d never recovered from losing his wife. Frankie had felt protective of him, even though he had been the adult and she the child.

Buy now from Amazon.

About the author.

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

 

#BlogTour! #Extract – What Happened to Us by Faith Hogan (@GerHogan) @aria_fiction

I am delighted to be on the blog tour for Faith Hogan’s new novel today. Unfortunately I couldn’t do my review due to a technical difficulty in getting the book, but I am able to share an extract from the book instead. Do watch this space as I intend to read it ASAP though!!

Carrie Nolan is devastated when she is dumped by Kevin Mulvey after more than a decade without even a backwards glance! On reflection, she has sacrificed her own long term happiness establishing their critically acclaimed Dublin restaurant and pandering to his excessive ego. 

 Meanwhile Kevin can’t believe his luck. Valentina, their new waitress is a stunner, the kind of girl that turns heads when she walks in a room and surprise, surprise she has chosen him! He is living the dream!

 Carrie seeks solace from a circle of mismatched friends who need her as much as she needs them. Jane, who struggles to run the pub on the opposite side of the street, Luke, who has stopped drifting while his father settles in a nearby nursing home and Teddy, a dog who asks for nothing more than the chance to stay by Carrie’s side. 

 With Christmas just around the corner, all is not quite as it seems and a catastrophic sequence of events leads to the unthinkable… 

 How far do you need to fall before you learn the true value of family and friends? And is it ever too late to start again…

 Buy links

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Pv3cCJ 
iBooks: https://apple.co/2BBjSpp

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2o3aMrV 
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2OHDsSO

Extract.

Carrie eyed her stocky frame critically in the mirror. She had washed her hair and attempted to brush it out straight, but of course, as always, it disobediently fell back into a mass of curls. In the end, she pinned it up in a messy bun and pulled a few tendrils free, in case she needed to hide behind them. She had just spent an hour crying about the way things had turned out, so she hoped there were no more tears left. Her shift in the restaurant started in less than forty-five minutes. The last thing she wanted was a replay of the previous evening. She may be an emotional wreck; it didn’t mean that all sense of herself had to be obviously lost.

She pulled out an emerald wrap dress she’d bought in New York a few years earlier. It was made of the softest wool and always garnered a compliment when she wore it. It worked quite well with patent heels and her black lacy bolero. She needed a splash of Manhattan in her life now. The wrap top managed to hold in her ample boobs. The skirt though narrow didn’t make as much of her peasant thighs as some clinging skirts did. It was the best she could do, and she wasn’t sure who she was trying to impress anyway, she could never match Valentina for looks.

‘Right, Teddy, how do I look?’ she quizzed the little dog when she went back into the kitchen. He looked at her curiously, she was not sure if she passed the appearance test, but she had a feeling he saw something in her that went deeper than her figure. She bent down and scratched his head gently. He seemed content to slumber in the same spot in her kitchen, so she left him there.

She was dreading going into The Sea Pear. There, she’d said it. How long had she felt like that? She shook her head, not long, probably only since Kevin made his announcement. God, it was almost a full fifteen minutes since she gave him a thought. Now the dread filled her again. There was no point going through the thoughts that were cramming her mind: What was she supposed to do now? What was Kevin going to do? Was he going to shack up permanently with Valentina? Carrie couldn’t allow her mind to go there, not yet. For now, she had to get through working in the same building as the pair of them. For now, that would be as much as she would demand of herself.

The restaurant felt warm and fresh when she arrived. It wasn’t four hours since she walked through here with Teddy and Luke. Yet, knowing that Kevin was going to be here now, the place felt different. As though its familiarity was jarring with what it should be. She hadn’t been at work since yesterday evening, when she’d run out of here distraught. No one had checked up on her and the business had not come crashing down without her. Actually, the place looked fine. Everything was exactly as it should be.

The smell, familiar, trailing before her was Kevin – a mixture of Calvin Klein and hair products to make his wiry hair appear sleek. They had not spoken, not really, since he had trotted out of her office with Valentina at his side. Oh, they’d exchanged orders from the kitchen to the front of house. They’d worked around each other in careful silence for almost two days, until finally the hollowness inside her had given way last night. He, she knew, was much more cowardly than she. Had she always known that? Was he actually spineless? She thought about it for a moment, then she threw her shoulders back, her ample chest out and marched into the kitchen. She was not afraid. Broken, but not afraid.

‘I can’t believe you left my mother high and dry.’ Kevin’s voice reached a pitch she hadn’t heard in years.

How are you Carrie? How are you doing? I was worried about you?’ Carrie said the words sarcastically; after all, they were what she imagined she would say to him if things were reversed.

‘Of course, I was worried about you, we both were, but…’ He ran his long fingers through his thick hair and she noticed it seemed greyer now than it was before. Could he have aged overnight or was it really so long since she’d actually properly looked at him? ‘But still, what was I supposed to do, drag you back to work. Valentina said you probably needed some time to get your head around things. We managed fine, by the way,’ he nodded towards the restaurant.

‘Really,’ Carrie said and she let the hurt of him talking to Valentina about her slide sideward on her consciousness. She couldn’t think about all the times they’d probably spoken about her these last few weeks or maybe months. ‘Well, good news for both of you. But I’m back now, so…’

‘Well, of course,’ Kevin bit his lip, a nervous habit he had worked hard to kick in college. ‘And…’

‘Yes?’ she said. Had he thought about the restaurant, had he thought about the house? She’d bet Valentina had thought of it.

‘Well, it’s just…’ He was too weak to move things forward and for that, perhaps, she was glad; she had enough to cope with for now.

‘You’ll need to tell your mother, Kevin. From now on you’re going to be bringing her to mass every Sunday.’ She grabbed an apple from the top of a newly delivered box and took a satisfying bite. God, but she’d love to be a fly on the wall when he told Maureen Mulvey about Valentina.

Working in the restaurant that evening was hard. There was no point lying to herself. Carrie sidestepped Valentina when she could, but they couldn’t avoid each other. Perhaps she could ask some of their friends to give Valentina work in their restaurant. Jim McGrath ran a little bistro on the north side; she’d make a bomb there in tips. She could suggest it to Kevin, maybe, in a few weeks, when they had time to cool down, all of them.

That was the funny thing though; they were all very cool about this. She hadn’t lost her temper, she hadn’t screamed or shouted, or thrown plates. Today, at least, she didn’t want to hit him or hurt him in any way and, maybe, that meant something. Maybe it meant something more than she’d have realised if this hadn’t happened. Oh, she was hurt. She was hurt beyond description, the kind of pain that goes deep into the core of you. Even when she thought she’d cried herself out, she felt a new current of grief rise within her, bringing waves of tears to her eyes that there was no stopping. Poor Teddy had leant against her leg, lapped up the tears and occasionally rested his head on her lap, as if to offer her his own brand of sympathy. It was a funny thing; there was something in the dog that made her feel he actually got her pain, he, by his very wish to console her, somehow made things better. She was so glad to have him in the house with her.

She looked up at the clock, almost ten p.m. She walked to the door. Across the road, The Marchant Inn was in darkness and its emptiness thrashed like a wave of lonesomeness through Carrie. She thought of Jane, so fragile and alone in the hospital. Through all those tears, Carrie had made a promise of sorts, even if she hadn’t put it into words – she was going to look out for Jane from now on. Somehow, she was going to help that lonely woman get back to a life that meant something. She sighed, perhaps it would do her good to think about someone else for a while and take her mind off Kevin and Valentina.

Sunday night was always quiet, very few bookings this evening and generally, everyone was seated by nine or half past and they managed to clear out by twelve. She was looking forward to getting out of here now. Funny, but she’d never felt like that before.

Carrie slipped upstairs to her office and turned on the computer. She logged into her Facebook account to catch up with what was happening with people she knew who were flung all over the world these days. For one more time, she could pretend that everything was normal. Then she’d call Anna and tomorrow she’d go and see her mother.

About the author.

Faith was born in Ireland and currently lives there with her husband, four children and two fussy cats. She gained an HonorsDegree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate from University College, Galway. She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair- an international competition for emerging writers. When she’s not writing, she’s an enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger. 

 Follow Faith

Twitter: @gerhogan

Facebook: @faithhoganauthor

#BlogTour! #Excerpt from ‘Cupid F*cks Up’ by Paula Houseman (@paulahouseman) @RaRaResources

Cupid & Twat Full Tour Banner
Haha oh I love the titles of these books!!!! Me and Cupid aren’t best buds anymore which is pretty ideal when you take a look at what book I am featuring for this blog tour! Yes that’s right, I have the pleasure of hosting an extract from Paula Houseman’s ‘Cupid F*cks Up’. Many thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite. Before I share the extract with you all, here is a bit more information about the book and the all important ‘buy’ links. Enjoy!

Cupid Fcks up ebook cover
Ruth Roth is a straight shooter. Pity Cupid’s not.

Smart-mouth Ruth is an inspirational humour columnist for a popular women’s magazine. Recently divorced, she has found the love of her life. Without any help, mind you, from the little fat love god. Ruth has decided she herself is her one and only.
And she’s in a comfy place. Why wouldn’t she be? No need to yell ‘Put the bloody toilet seat down!’ No need to hoover toe-nail clippings off the carpet.

But then a silver-tongued Prince Charming fronts up in his shiny Merc and tickles her discarded, little-girl fantasies. He tells her their love is written in the stars.
It must be a misprint. A romance with this particular PC is not so PC! Still …
Ruth’s life plays out more like ancient myth than fairytale. And what hot-blooded woman can resist forbidden fruit?

There’s a problem, though. Ruth does not have a hot-blooded mum. Ruth has a pain-in-the-arse mum whose squawking disapproval cranks the taboo up a notch.
All the more reason to take up with the stud! But it means taking on the harpy.
Tensions mount, and even Ruth’s man can’t protect her from the trash-talking voices in her head. It looks like he can’t muzzle his own either. When an earth-shattering revelation causes him to give her grief, it makes her feel like she’s dating her mother.
Taking the kind of advice she doles out to her readers is not so easy, and Ruth wonders if this love can survive. More to the point, is it worth the trouble?

Buy: Amazon UK // Amazon US

Extract.

It was a difficult time, compounded by Sylvia’s demands. And her browbeating. Joe was
gone; I was here to wear it. She was ringing three or four times a day, but then for two days, there was nothing. It felt like a holiday. It didn’t last long.
I was at the dining room table late one afternoon working on an article about hypercritical parents, when mine turned up on my doorstep. Sylvia had often worn black when Joe was alive, but now it was her uniform. Today, she had on a black towelling tracksuit.
‘You could have called me,’ she accused. ‘I might have been dead on the floor like your
father was. I could have composted.’
What? As in, like, manure and chicken scraps?
‘You think that’s funny? Oeuf, pest!’
I think it’s hysterical. ‘No, but I think you meant decomposed.’
‘Decomposed, composted … what difference does it make? You wouldn’t have even known I was dead!’ She beat her chest and snivelled.
‘Yes, I would. Myron calls you every day. He would have let me know.’
It was the wrong answer. She turned off the waterworks and threw me a dirty look. I was in no mood for this today. The article had got me all riled. I held her stare and threw her back one of irritation. She shifted uncomfortably and cleared her throat.
‘Well, are you going to invite me in?’
Is there a choice? I held out my hand in mock formality and watched her as she shuffled
into the lounge. With her shrunken posture and slow gait, she seemed to have aged. I felt sorry for her. I also felt guilty that I had little tolerance for my mother, so I willed myself to think positive. Ah yes, this is research for my article. It was the best I could do.
She sat on the sofa, picked at a loose thread on the seam of her trackie dacks and picked up the thread of our conversation. ‘Anyway, I’ve been calling you.’
Her little dig dissolved the pity I felt. I didn’t respond.
‘Where are the children?’
In a lucky place. ‘In their bedrooms. Hannah! Casper!’ I called out. ‘Come say hello to
Nanna.’
Two bedroom doors groaned open. Both kids came out, dutifully kissed their grandmother and said they had to finish their homework.
What the—? I was about to say something but they stared at me with eyes like saucers.
Sylvia was too self-absorbed to remember it was school holidays. I kept quiet, but I fixed my children with a look that implied, You owe me. They nodded relief. It was the closest I’d come to feeling appreciated in a while.

‘There must be something wrong with your phone,’ Sylvia said, as Hannah and Casper
disappeared into their rooms. ‘Like I was saying, I’ve been calling you and I keep getting a wrong number. It’s always the same one that’s got a message telling me about good times coming. I’m not in the mood for a good time. I’m a grieving widow.’ She sounded affronted.
‘Uh, you sure you’re not calling the wrong number?’
‘Of course I’m not! I’m a grieving widow. I haven’t lost my memory!’
Pity. All those accumulated grudges. The slate could have been wiped clean.
I told her I’d look into it.
The grieving widow stayed for another hour of lamentation. When she left, I called my
landline from my mobile. I gasped.
‘Hannah! Casper! Get out here, NOW!’
The automated greeting had been delivered by a smoky female voice, but the message made it pretty clear what the nature of the business was. I’d had a little chuckle before trying to act like a responsible person. And I’d felt confident enough to summon them with a shout—they were beholden to me.
The two of them came into the kitchen. ‘Okay, which one of you call-forwarded to a
brothel?’
Hannah looked at me with a confounded expression. Then, eyes widening, she turned to
Casper and both of them started laughing. They slapped palms.
Oh, just lovely. Great job of mothering you’ve done that your children think it’s okay to do something like that.
I think it’s quite creative. I wanted to palm-slap along with them.
What? Creative? Your children have no respect for you!
‘It’s not funny!’ I yelled, mainly to block out my internal head-to-head than berate my kids.
My disrespectful children stopped laughing. Casper gave me a repentant look. ‘Mum,
Nanna was ringing a hundred times a day and moaning about being a widow eeeevery time I answered the phone. I know she’s your mother, but … she’s a pain in the arse.’
No shit. ‘I know, but it’s not very nice to do that, is it?’ It’s never too late to be pious.
‘Sorry. I’ll call her later to apologise.’
What? No! Not too pious. ‘Uh, best not. If she finds out what you did … well, imagine?’

About the author.

Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the
finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.
She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).
Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media Links

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#BlogTour! #Extract – Reflected Destinies by Florence Keeling (@keelingflorence) @rararesources

I love this cover! Today I have the pleasure of sharing an extract from Florence Keeling’s – Reflected Destinies. Enjoy!

Laura is happy and content, she has a new boyfriend and loves her job teaching primary school pupils in London.  But when she inherits a rundown house from a stranger on her 30th birthday, memories of her prom night come flooding back, memories of a scary encounter and an antique mirror in the very same house.

Laura visits the house with all its secrets and as she unravels the clues she reveals the biggest secret of all: her own destiny.  But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

Buy now!

Extract

When I was writing Reflected Destines, one of the most important aspects was the mirror.  Here Laura encounters it for the very first time.

They were at the front of the house now, just one room left which they assumed would be the master bedroom.  All the doors on all the rooms were either open or non-existent but this room was different, the door to this room was shut.

“I don’t think I want to go in.”  Beth backed away as Laura tried the metal handle.  It turned with a little squeak and Laura opened the door just a fraction.  

“There’s something in there.”  Laura opened the door wider and stepped in.  “It’s got a sheet over it.”  

“Laura?”  Beth edged further away.  “Come back.  I don’t like it.”  But Laura wasn’t listening, she wanted to know what was under the sheet.  She wanted to know why all the other rooms were empty except for this one.

She was right in front of it now.  Its outline was slightly taller than her and about a foot wide.

“I think it’s a mirror,” she called back to Beth as she pulled the sheet slowly down, but Beth didn’t answer, she’d already gone to wait with Lucy.

The sheet slid off to prove Laura right, it was a mirror with a beautifully carved frame surrounding the almost perfect glass.  Laura let her hands move over the frame feeling the intricate design.

“You always loved that mirror.”  A man’s quiet voice from behind her froze Laura to the spot.  She looked in the mirror and jumped at the sight.  A very frail looking old man stood in the reflection.  He had neatly combed white hair, was dressed smartly in a full suit and tie, and leaned heavily on a cane.  He was holding what appeared to be a piece of paper in his hand.  “You look so beautiful.  Just how I pictured you would.”  He held out the paper for her.  She turned slowly and stepped a little way towards him.  She wanted to speak but found her voice had failed her.  She felt terrified yet strangely intrigued.  

Tentatively she took the paper from his hand and instinctively moved away from him towards the door.  The moon was shining into the room from a window on the landing and Laura could see a faded old photograph of a girl standing in a pretty ball gown, yet the photograph was in colour.  Recognition suddenly dawned on her and she dropped the photo as if it was a piece of hot coal. “

About the author

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

#BlogTour! #Extract from #JoNesboMacbeth @DeadGoodBooks @HarvillSecker

Blog Tour Poster - Macbeth
Many thanks to Mia for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘Macbeth’ by Jo Nesbo! For my stop today, I have a chapter sampler to share with you all. Enjoy!

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JO NESBO: #1 Sunday Times bestseller, #1 New York Times bestseller, 40 million books sold worldwide

He’s the best cop they’ve got.

When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.

He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.

He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.

But a man like him won’t get to the top.

Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.

Unless he kills for it.

Extract.

Lady walked through the gaming room. The light from the immense chandeliers fell softly on the dark mahogany where they were playing blackjack and poker, on the green felt where the dice would dance later in the evening, on the spear-shaped gold spire that stood up like a minaret in the middle of the spinning roulette wheel. She’d had the chandeliers made as smaller copies of the four- and- a- half-ton chandelier in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, while the spire pointing from the middle of the ceiling down to the roulette table was a copy of the spire in the roulette wheel. The chandeliers were anchored with cords tied to the banisters of the mezzanine in such a way that they could be lowered every Monday and the glass cleaned. This was the kind of detail that passed straight over most customers’ heads. Like the small, discreet lilies she’d had sewn into the thick, sound-muffling burgundy carpets she had bought in Italy for a tiny fortune. But they didn’t go over her head, she saw the matching spires and only she knew what the lilies commemorated. That was enough. For this was hers.

The croupiers automatically stood up straight whenever she passed. They knew their jobs, they were efficient and careful, they treated the customers with courtesy but were firm, they had manicured hands, groomed hair and were immaculately dressed in Inverness Casino’s elegant red and black croupier uniform, which was changed every year and tailor-made for every single member of staff.

And, most important of all, they were honest.  This wasn’t something she assumed, it was something she saw and heard. Saw it in people’s eyes, involuntary tics, muscular twitches or theatrically relaxed states. Heard it in the tiny distinctions of quivering vocal cords. It was an innate sensitivity she had, inherited from her mother and grandmother. But while this sensitivity had led them as they aged into the dark shadows of insanity, Lady had used her skills to flush out dishonesty. Away from childhood’s vale of woe, up to where she was today. The rounds of inspection had two functions.

One was to keep her employees on their toes that little bit more so that every day, every night, they would show themselves to be at least one class higher than those at the Obelisk. The second was to uncover any dishonesty. Even though they had been honest and honourable yesterday, people were like wet clay: they were shaped by opportunity, motive and what you told them today, and they could blithely do what had been inconceivable the day before. Yes, that was the only thing that was fixed, the only thing you could count on: the heart was greedy. Lady knew that. She had that kind of
heart herself. A heart she alternately cursed and counted herself lucky to have, which had brought her affluence but had also deprived her of everything. But it was the 94 heart that beat in her chest. You can’t change anything, you can’t stop it, all you can do is follow it.

She nodded to the familiar faces gathered around the roulette table. Regular customers. They all had their reasons for coming here and playing. There were those who needed to switch off after a challenging working day and those who, after a boring working day, needed a challenge. And those who had neither work nor a challenge, but money. Those who had none of the above ended up at the Obelisk, where you were given a tasteless but free lunch if you gambled more than five hundred.

You had idiots who thought they had a system which promised long-term gains, a breed that kept dying but curiously never died out. And then you had those who –  and no casino-owner would admit this aloud – formed the bedrock of their business. Those who had to. Those who felt compelled to come here because they couldn’t stop themselves risking everything, night after night, fascinated by the roulette ball whizzing around the shiny wheel like a little globe caught in the sun’s gravitational field, the sun that gave them daily life but which in the end, with the inevitability of physics, would also burn them up. The addicted. Lady’s bread and butter.

Talking about addiction. She looked at her watch. Nine. It was still a bit early in the evening, but she wished the tables were fuller. Reports from the Obelisk suggested they were continuing to take business away from her despite the heavy investment she had made in interior design, the kitchen and the upgrade of the hotel rooms. Some thought she was in the process of pricing herself out of the market and, because the three-year-old Obelisk was well established in people’s minds as the more reasonable alternative, she could and should 95 cut down on the standards and expenses. After all, she wouldn’t lose her status as the town’s exclusive option. But they didn’t know Lady.

They didn’t know that for her it wasn’t primarily about the bottom line but being the exclusive option. Not only more elegant than the Obelisk but better, whatever the comparison. Lady’s Inverness Casino should be the place you wanted to be seen, the place you wanted to be associated with. And she, Lady, should be the person you wanted to be seen and associated with. The moneyed came here and the top politicians, actors and sports personalities from the celebrity firmament, writers, beauties, hipsters and intellectuals –  everyone came to Lady’s table, bowed respectfully, kissed her hand, met her discreet rejection of their equally discreet enquiry about gambling credit with a smile and gratefully accepted a Bloody Mary on the house. Profit or no profit, she hadn’t
come all this way to run a bloody bordello, as they were doing at the Obelisk, so they could have the dregs, those she would rather not see beneath Inverness Casino’s chandeliers. Genuine chandeliers.

But of course the tide had turned. The creditors had started asking questions. And they hadn’t liked her answer: what the Inverness needed was not cheaper drinks but more and bigger chandeliers.

Business wasn’t on her mind now though. Addiction was. And the fact that Macbeth hadn’t got here yet. He always said if he was going to be  late.  And what had happened during the Sweno raid had affected him.  He didn’t say so, but she could sense it. Sometimes he was strangely soft-hearted, it seemed to her – a man she had seen kill with her own eyes. She had seen the calculated determination before the killing, the cold efficiency during it and the remorseless smile afterwards.

But this had been different, she knew.

(Extract taken from Chapter 5 of ‘Macbeth’ by Jo Nesbo)

To buy a copy of Macbeth by Jo Nesbo, click here!

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#BlogTour! #Extract – Perfect Silence by Helen Fields (@Helen_Fields) @AvonBooksUK


Today I am breaking the perfect silence by taking part in the blog tour for Helen Fields’ brand new novel! For my stop on the tour, I have a fabulous extract to share with you all. I am currently reading Helen’s new book so please keep an eye out later on in the week for my review! Thank you, as always, to Avon for the blog tour invite and the ARC. I hope you enjoy the extract!

When silence falls, who will hear their cries?

The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.

After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?

Buy now from Amazon

Extract.

‘Luc, call the station. Ask them if they have a young woman
listed as missing in the last forty-eight hours. Just say between
sixteen and twenty, long brown hair, red-brown dress. No other
description for now,’ Ava instructed Callanach.

‘It’s not,’ Jonty said.

‘Not what?’ Callanach asked.

‘It’s not a coloured dress,’ Jonty replied. He slid a gloved
hand under the girl’s left shoulder to raise her a few inches off
the fl oor, exposing a small section of the dress behind her
shoulder blade. The bright white patch of cotton glowed in
the floodlights.

Ava took in a sharp breath. ‘It’s a white dress?’ she muttered.

‘How the fuck did she . . .’

Jonty answered the question by raising the hem up over the
girl’s thighs and abdomen. A massive section of skin had been
cut from her stomach, the raw sections of fl esh curling back
where her body had begun to dry out. Blood was crusted over
the whole of her lower half, washing down her legs and her
bare feet.

If that extract doesn’t make you head to Amazon to pick up a copy of ‘Perfect Silence’, I don’t know what will!

Buy now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Extract – 11 Missed Calls by Elisabeth Carpenter (@LibbyCPT) @AvonBooksUK

11 Missed Calls Blog Tour FINAL
Today for my stop on the ’11 Missed Calls’ blog tour, I will be sharing an extract from Elisabeth Carpenter’s new book. Enjoy!

image001-10
Here are two things I know about my mother:
1. She had dark hair, like mine.
2. She wasn’t very happy at the end.

Anna has always believed that her mother, Debbie, died 30 years ago on the night she disappeared.

But when her father gets a strange note, she realises that she’s never been told the full story of what happened that night on the cliff.

Confused and upset, Anna turns to her husband Jack – but when she finds a love letter from another woman in his wallet, she realises there’s no-one left to help her, least of all her family.

And then a body is found…

Extract.

I grab my laptop and take it into the living room. I still don’t know what to say in my reply to Debbie. It is too important to just fire off a few words when I have a whole lifetime to write about. She won’t be expecting a message from me, but I doubt Monica or Dad have replied yet. They would have told me if they had, though I’m not sure of anything these days.

‘Just ask to meet,’ says Jack, reading my mind. ‘You don’t have to write an essay. If she is who she says she is, then you’ll find out soon enough.’

Perhaps it is as simple as that. There is a tiny part of me – self-preservation, again – that tells me not to give too much away in an email. She must earn the right to hear my news. The least she could do is meet me.

I click on the email forwarded by Dad. I already know her words off by heart, but I still read it. ‘The memories of shells and sweet things …’ No one else could know about that.

I type out the reply before I can think about it, and press send.

Buy now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Extract from #TheBookNinja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus (@thebookninjas) @simonschusteruk


Second day of the blog tour for ‘The Book Ninja’, and the tour bus stops here at TWG! This book is on my TBR and I aim to get to it very soon, but until then I have an extract from the book to share with you all today. Before I do that however, here is a little bit more information about Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus’ new book:


‘Frankie, think about it. Literature is your life. You’ve been trawling Tinder looking for well-read intellectuals, but it’s not working. Let’s shake things up! Just use your favourite books to find a man.’ 

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.

With the help of her best friend and colleague Cat, Frankie decides to embark on the ultimate dating experiment. Inspired by her surroundings at The Little Brunswick Bookshop where she works, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books. The only flaw to the plan? That she may never get her books back!

But that turns out to be the least of her worries… In between crazy dates and writing them up on her blog, Frankie stumbles upon her perfect man. There’s just one problem…Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it…

Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?

You can purchase ‘The Book Ninja’ now from Amazon

Extract – chapter 1.

If Frankie’s life were a book, she would title it Disappoint- ment, named aptly after the disaster that was her career, her family and, of course, her love life.

Frankie’s alarm blared accusingly, declaring that she was already twenty minutes late to get out of bed. She sighed, rolled over, and buried her face in her shabby copy of Emma, which she had shoved under her pillow the night before. Then she bit her lip, thinking she would never be remarkable enough to have a book named simply after her first name.

But Frankie never judged a book by its title. Nor by its cover. She liked to judge a novel purely by its opening sentence, which she and her best friend Cat dubbed a ‘book birth’. InEmma’s birth, Austen described Miss Woodhouse as ‘hand- some, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition’. By contrast, the opening sentence of Frankie’s birth was her mother proclaiming, ‘She’s bald and has her father’s big nose.’

Frankie pulled her blanket over her head and drank up the words on the page in front of her. She knew she was approaching the proposal scene, and closed her eyes tight. Just like a good chocolate bar, she wasn’t sure whether she should indulge in its goodness right now, or savour it later. And just like that, the jarring ring of her phone solved the dilemma for her. Frankie picked it up and saw her mother’s name flashing on the screen. She rolled her eyes, clicked ‘ignore’ and slowly dragged herself out of bed.

Searching for an outfit that was easy to put together, she SY picked up a loose cotton dress from her floor and flung it on. Scooting through her bedroom door, she walked towards her pride and joy – her precisely colour-coded bookshelf. Filled with 172 of her all-time favourites, the bookshelf lined a full wall of her living room. Beginning with reds on top, the wall shaded into oranges, yellows, pinks, purples, greens, blues, greys and, finally, blacks. A rainbow of books. Her happy place. She dragged her fingers absently across the cloth-bound Austen’s, along the hardcover Fowlers, over the Brontës and then stopped haltingly at the muted green book with ‘Frankie Rose’ embossed on the spine. She picked it up cautiously, as if it were a snake about to bite, and peeled open the first page.

To Mum, Dad, Cat, Ads and, most importantly, pizza. For all the love, support and cheesy goodness.

Frankie slammed the book shut and threw it to the other side of the room. She grabbed her handbag, which lay beside the couch, slipped on a pair of red sneakers and ran out the door of her too-small Richmond apartment.

After digging for the keys in the bottom of her bag, Frankie let herself into The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop; her home away from home for the last year and a half, right about the time her dreams shattered and her life fell apart. Working at the bookstore had saved her, in so many ways. It reminded her of the three months she had spent working at the famous Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, before she returned to start her Masters of English Lit at the University of Melbourne.

Free of responsibility, Frankie had relished this time spent lost between bookshelves, writing, and eating almond croissants. That same carefree feeling washed over her every time she entered The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop. She loved watching people from the inside out, like a backwards kaleidoscope of literature lovers gazing into their beautiful front windows from vibrant Brunswick Street. She loved being surrounded by powerful women such as Angelou, Atwood and Adichie. And most of all, she loved working with Cat. Cat’s husband Claud had inherited The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop from his grandparents, and when he – an accountant at a small city law firm who maintained long hours and an intense knitting hobby – was unsure how he would juggle a second job, Cat had the genius idea of selling the books in the front, while he, occasionally, managed the books from the back. And when Cat offered Frankie a job, it didn’t take long for her to say yes, yes, yes!

Since the days spent penning love letters to Mr Darcy instead of practising algebra in Year 8 maths, their bond had endured even though Cat, pregnant with her first child, now spent Saturday nights watching reruns of The National Knitting Evening on Netflix with Claud, and Frankie, pregnant with last night’s pizza, spent hers on awful first dates. And now, with their days spent surrounded by, discussing and reading books (and of course appraising everyone else based on their book choices), Cat and Frankie were closer than Horatio and Hamlet.

Frankie wound her way through the shelves and unceremoniously flung her bag beneath the front counter. She cranked on the air conditioning, sank into the seat behind the register, placed her feet up on the counter and returned to her worn copy of Emma. She had just turned the page when the front door chimed open and Cat marched into the store. Her red SY frizzy hair was everywhere, sweat dripped down her face and she wore a hot pink knitted top, black lycra pants and bright orange sneakers.

‘Catherine,’ Frankie nodded from behind her book. ‘Frankston,’ Cat nodded back. She joined Frankie behind

the counter, grabbed her copy of Jasper Jones and propped her feet up next to Frankie’s.

‘What’s with the sweat?’ Frankie asked.

‘I had another K-Pop dance class this morning – which was amazing, by the way – but their showers are broken and I couldn’t be bothered walking home to change and then coming all the way back here, so I thought if I just stood outside for a while I would dry. But I forgot that it’s going to be thirty-two freaking degrees today! Plus, these knits Claud keeps making me do nothing for sweat absorption. Look at me dripping, I’m like an ice cream!’ Cat grabbed Frankie and tried to pull her head into her sweaty chest.

If Frankie was the queen of dating, Cat was the queen of exercise classes. From barre to one very confronting summer of pole dancing, Cat became obsessed and then unobsessed with every sort of exercise and health kick imaginable, before dropping it like Marius drops Eponine. It all started a few summers ago and, at first, Frankie thought the fixation on fitness was simply Cat wanting to be healthier and more toned, but lately she had wondered whether it tapped into a deeper insecurity. Cat used to relish watching heads turn at her overly attractive husband, but was she starting to feel overlooked?

‘What are you up to?’ Cat asked, glancing at Frankie’s battered book.

‘Almost at the proposal,’ Frankie gushed.

‘Aren’t you sick of reading the same books over and over?’

‘You’re reading Jasper Jones for the fourth time,’ Frankie countered.

Cat spread her arms as if to say touché.
‘So, something pretty weird happened at K-Pop today.’ ‘Oh?’ Frankie asked.
The front door opened, halting their conversation. Frankie

and Cat shut their books, dropped their feet to the floor and looked up, alert. A stout, slightly balding man walked in.

‘Sci-fi!’ hissed Cat.
‘War biography!’ spat Frankie.
The man, red in the face, smiled at Frankie and Cat. They smiled back sweetly and asked if he needed any assistance. He shook his head and then proceeded to walk excruciatingly slowly around the bookstore, scratching his head, not touching anything. The women stared at him, examining his every step.

‘Just make your move,’ Cat whispered at him.
‘He’s about to pounce!’ hissed Frankie.
After what seemed an age, the man stopped in the science fiction section and grabbed two Stephen King novels, placing one swiftly under each armpit.

‘Damn it! Shirt but no tie. Dead giveaway,’ Frankie said, disappointed.

‘Pay up, Frankston.’ Cat held her hand out in front of Frankie’s nose, wiggling her fingers in anticipation. Frankie slowly dragged a five-dollar note out of her wallet and slammed it into Cat’s hand.

‘Just these two wonderful sci-fi books, then?’ Cat said to her customer while smiling devilishly at Frankie.

‘Yes, I love a good Stephen King,’ said the man, dropping the books on the counter for Cat to scan. ‘I was actually going to try my hand at that war biog, The Crossroad, by Mark someone-or-other. You know the one I mean? But then ISY thought, why stop at a good thing? And King – well, he’s a very good thing!’ he chuckled.

Frankie stared, and Cat held back a laugh as she slid the two Kings into a paper bag.
‘Have a lovely day. I’m so glad you decided to go with

King over a war biography. King really is such a good thing,’ chirped Cat.

‘He really is! Well, toodaloo!’ the man trumpeted as he walked out the door, the bell ringing behind him.

‘Go you good thing!’ Cat shouted after him, pumping her fist triumphantly.

‘He was going to buy a war biog! Give me my five dollars back!’ Frankie grabbed at the note, but Cat pulled away.

‘He was going to. But alas, he didn’t! The fiver is all mine,’ said Cat smugly.
it.’ Frankie sighed. ‘You don’t have to sound so pleased about

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Cat said, smiling, and sounding even more delighted with herself.

Frankie frowned. Balancing their legs back on the counter, they reclined in their chairs. The growing heat of the day pressed its way under the gap beneath the front door, only to be stunted by the harsh air conditioning in the store. Beads of cool sweat trickled down Frankie’s neck and into her cleavage.

‘Sorry, I’m in a silly mood,’ Cat said.

Silence. ‘“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way,”’ Frankie quoted the Austen she was reading, to a tee.

Cat smiled as Frankie gave a little bow of her head.

‘So, why the silly mood, Kitty Cat? What happened at K-Pop? Are you moving to Korea?’ Frankie joked.

‘Oh, it was nothing. I’ll go get the coffees.’ Cat jumped up just a little too quickly and grabbed her bag.

‘Cat! Seriously? What happened at K-Pop?’ It was unlike Cat to be so evasive. Frankie usually got the lowdown from her about everything, from what she had for breakfast to the romance between the two buskers who sat opposite the bookstore.

‘Nothing. Nothing.’ Cat’s face bloomed even redder, and her eyes darted towards the door.

‘Catherine Adeline Cooper. Tell. Me. Now.’ Frankie squinted suspiciously at Cat.

Cat stared back just as intently, and for a minute – a record for them – they had an ice-cold stare-off.

‘Oh, all right, fine!’ Cat threw her arms in the air, defeated. ‘Yes?’
‘Well, at K-Pop … there’s this really cute dancer. A guy.

Called Jin Soo.’ ‘Jin Soo?’

‘Yes, Jin Soo.’
‘And?’
‘And … Jin Soo.’
‘What about Jin Soo?’
‘Well, I sort of, accidentally, slept with him a few weeks

back,’ Cat covered her mouth with her hand and bolted for the door.

‘WHAT! Cat? Cat, come back!’ Frankie shouted, refusing to believe what she had just heard.

Cat, cheating on Claud? No; Frankie knew it was impossible. Cat would never cheat on him. Cat and Claud’s marriage wasn’t perfect, but whose was? Cat loved Claud. In his stupidly good-looking, knitting-obsessed entirety. And she was four months’ pregnant with his child, for God’s sake.

Frankie jumped up from her seat and raced after her sweaty, SY recently adulterous friend. As she pulled open the front door she stopped. Instead of Cat, before her stood a man. Possibly the best looking man she had ever laid eyes on. He was tall; he was burly. He was, to her mind, the perfect mix of John Knightley, Mr Darcy and Edmund Bertram all rolled into one.