Many thanks to Boldwood Books for inviting me to take part in Jennifer Bohnet’s blog tour for ‘A Riviera Retreat’. To close the tour I have an extract to share with you. Enjoy!
When Retreat owner Amy offers three lucky competition winners a holiday on the Cote d’Azur, she has no idea that this simple act of kindness will have life-changing repercussions on her own life as well as those who join her…
Young entrepreneur Chelsea has just been subjected to a very public relationship break up and needs to get away to lick her wounds.
MP’s wife Victoria is at a crossroads in her life now that the children have left home. She realises she has ambitions of her own and needs some ‘me time’ to figure things out.
Recently widowed Matilda is assessing life without her beloved husband. Can she find the courage to follow their dream on her own?
The four women, despite their differences, bond and support each other, making memories and forming friendships that will last for years.
Tasha had run Belle Vue Villa as a successful auberge after Francois, her husband, had died and Amy knew that the villa would have to continue to earn its keep for her in the future. Rather than having holidaymakers turn up willy-nilly looking for a bed, Amy decided to focus on offering short retreats for writers and painters throughout the year. That way she’d always know how busy she’d be – with the added bonus of not having to worry about unexpected or unwanted strangers knocking on the door at all times of the day or night.
Lots of Tasha’s guests had left comments in the visitor’s book over the years, saying how special the house felt; how serene the atmosphere around the place was; several had said the villa was definitely a little French paradise. Amy had vowed to herself that she would do her utmost to keep the lovely ambiance that Tasha had masterfully created in and around the villa, while she endeavoured to put her own stamp on the place.
Five years on, Amy knew she could feel proud of what she’d achieved at Belle Vue. The auberge was now a popular venue as a retreat for artists and writers and it was her guests who left compliments in the visitor’s book and were returning time and time again. One particular writer had returned four times last year, saying she wrote more in a week when staying there than she wrote in a month at home. Amy knew Tasha would be proud and thrilled for her at the way the retreat had found its place in a niche market and taken off so well.
Turning back into the kitchen, Amy picked up the photo of her aunt that stood on the dresser and gently touched it. She owed Tasha so much. Thoughtfully, she replaced the photo. But how to show that gratitude? Tasha had always drummed into her the notion ‘it’s easy to take, but you must always, always give back too’. Amy knew that if Tasha had still been alive, she’d have wholeheartedly endorsed the current ‘do a random act of kindness for a stranger’ memes that seemed to appear every day on social media.
Amy smiled, remembering how Tasha had thoroughly embraced social media, joining groups, signing up for causes and having hundreds of friends on Facebook. Amy also knew her grateful act of ‘paying it back’ was long overdue, but despite thinking about it for weeks, months, not a single idea had surfaced. Nothing she thought of seemed grateful enough.
She glanced at the kitchen clock. A little early, but she’d open the bottle of wine she’d bought especially for today and leave it to breathe for a while. Opening a bottle of wine and silently toasting Tasha while watching the DVD of the film Enchanted April was a ritual that always finished off this particular day for Amy. Tasha had introduced her to the film and together they had watched it countless times.
As the credits rolled at the end of the film, Amy switched off the DVD, poured the last of the wine into her glass and opened her laptop, her head spinning not only from the wine she’d drunk but also with the perfect idea of how to give something back. To finally thank the universe for her good fortune.
Like the film she’d just watched, where an advertisement drew four women together, all strangers to each other, for a holiday in an Italian castle in the 1920s, her random act of kindness would begin with an advertisement too. Not in a newspaper but on twenty-first century social media.
Are you a woman who longs to spend time in retreat? Or simply in need of a holiday?
Answer the following question: Who wrote the book Enchanted April, and in less than one hundred words say which character you identify with most and why you need to win a holiday (June 6–16) at a retreat in the countryside behind the French Riviera. Travel expenses not included but low-cost flights are available to Nice. Transport to and from the airport will be arranged. Please note the date of the holiday on offer is NOT changeable or transferable.
Competition closes midnight the 31st of this month. Three lucky winners will be notified by email within one week of the competition closing.