HOW CAN A MEMORY SO VIVID BE WRONG? In the summer of 1986, Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.
In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?
With strong themes of memory, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cables first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Shows Peoples Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Complex, emotional and honest, ‘This story explores family, love and life. Izzie and Robin meet by chance and both feel it’s the start of something. Then fate steps in and they lose touch, meeting again twenty years later. Is this their second chance? Told from Izzy and Robin’s point of view, the story explores what happens after their first meeting and why they are the people they became.
The emotional journey is poignant and painful, and the conflicts that arise in the present seem insurmountable. With a balanced and believable cast of characters, a plot with surprising twists and an extraordinary love story this book absorbs, engages and resonates.
Jane Cable writes romantic fiction with the over-riding theme that the past is never dead. She published her first two books independently (the multi-award-winning The Cheesemaker’s House and The Faerie Tree) and is now signed by Sapere Books. Two years ago she moved to Cornwall to concentrate on her writing full time but struggles a little in such a beautiful location. Luckily she’s discovered the joys of the plot walk.
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AJ Williams wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a girl on the internet. But he did.
Other than living over five thousand miles away in Northern Ireland, Lisa Millar is seemingly his perfect match. AJ can’t quite believe his luck, not only is she beautiful, but she has an appreciation for both music and hockey – two of his favorite things.
Surprised by Lisa turning up unannounced in Alabama, AJ is under pressure to deal with the issue at hand. Should he risk losing her, come clean and tell her the truth? Or should he try to keep his secret under wraps?
Will true love win out? Or will AJ’s secret be too much for Lisa to bear?
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.
If she could speak to them, she would say they have exploded her heart, released firecrackers through her senses. She wishes she could call the police, the ambulance, the fire brigade, to arrest and anaesthetise and waterboard the bastards.
So what happens when your husband runs off with your best friend? When you discover the dead body of an old man halfway through your delivery round? When your house is burgled and you get beaten up? Doris, Andy and Colleen are about to find out. They’re also about to discover that you can find friendship and support in the oddest of places…
Heart-rending, humorous and above all authentic,Distorted Days is an exquisitely written account of the ways in which life can knock you off our feet – and how you can pick yourself up again. If you’ve experienced the fickleness of fortune, this is a book that you’ll never forget.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The book cover depicts the darkness, and tragic events in the story, perfectly. Original and poignant, the story reflects on the darker side of human life. How bad things happen to good people, without any apparent reason. Individual characters’ eccentricities, give them an authentic relatable voice. Depressing events fail to dominate, the book’s positive ethos. Friends are found in unlikely places. Courage emerges to move forward, even though every forward step is accompanied by several backward ones, in the beginning.
Good, evil, and everything in between is explored through the characters’ misfortunes. Human resilience and tenacity are celebrated. Multilayered, realistic characters draw you into their lives. You want them to find happiness. Claustrophobic feelings are balanced with often satirical humour.
An observant, poignant and witty story, full of complex characters, realistic events and believable responses.
Louise is the author of ‘Distorted Days’ and ‘Rachel’s Garden of Rooms.’ ‘The Entrepreneur’ will be available later in 2020. ‘The Thief’, a short story published by Park Publications, is available to download Louise Worthington’s website.
Before writing full time, Louise worked mainly as an English teacher after getting a degree in Literature and later, studying business and psychology at Masters level.
Louise grew up in Cheshire and now resides in Shropshire.
“Louise’s characters, without exception, are skillfully wrought which make the reader genuinely care for them.”
When Mia inherits her beloved grandmother’s summer cottage, Birch Thorpe, in Sweden, she faces a dilemma. Her fiance Charles urges her to sell and buy a swanky London home, but Mia cannot let it go easily. The request to carry out an archaeological dig for more Viking artefacts like the gold ring Mia’s grandmother also left her, offers her a reprieve from a decision – and from Charles.
Whilst Mia becomes absorbed in the dig’s discoveries, she finds herself drawn to archaeologist Haakon Berger. Like her, he can sense the past inhabitants whose lives are becoming more vivid every day. Trying to resist the growing attraction between them, Mia and Haakon begin to piece together the story of a Welsh noblewoman, Ceri, and the mysterious Viking, known as the ‘White Hawk’, who stole her away from her people in 869 AD.
As the present begins to echo the past, and enemies threaten Birch Thorpe’s inhabitants, they will all have to fight to protect what has become most precious to each of them…
I received a copy of this book from Headline Books in return for an honest review.
Atmospheric and romantic this is timeslip romantic novel covers the time spectrum from the days of Vikings to the present day. Mia inherits a Swedish cottage from her grandmother, she wants to keep it, but her partner wants her to sell so he can maintain his social-climbing lifestyle in London. The cottage is of archaeological significance and Mia agrees to the dig, to give her time to reach her decision.
Meeting archaeologist Haakon proves to be a meeting of minds and inevitably the chemistry between Mia and Haakon sizzles. As the dig progresses echoes of the past emerge, and the forbidden love of Ceri and Viking, White Hawk flows across time. Both stories are engaging and focus on the impossibility of the romances.
Rich in historical detail, these stories have a believable sense of place and time. The characters are complex and coupled with the vivid imagery, this story is a sensual delight. Echoes of danger, intrigue, and timeless love, make this timeslip romance an addictive absorbing read.
Christina Courtenay lives in Herefordshire and is married with two children. Although born in England, she is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan and she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East and other parts of the world.
Christina is a former Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several of their prizes – the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a historical short story in 2001, the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2006 and the RoNA for Best Historical in 2012 and 2014 (see below).
Her debut novel Trade Winds, a historical romance and adventure story, was short-listed for the Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction 2011. Her second novel, The Scarlet Kimono, received the Best Historical Fiction prize for the Big Red Read 2011. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan both won the RoNA (Romantic Novelists Association Award) for Best Historical Romantic Novel (Highland Storms in 2012 and The Gilded Fan in 2014), while The Silent Touch of Shadows (time slip) won the Festival of Romance award for Best Historical in 2013.
Christina also writes contemporary YA and New England Rocks was shortlisted for the RoNAs in the YA category in 2014. (The second book in the series, New England Crush, was published under a different name – Pia Fenton.)
As well as her novels, Christina has had four Regency novellas published, all available in Large Print and as ebooks.
Her hobbies include genealogy, archaeology (the armchair variety), listening to loud rock music and collecting things. She loves dogs, reading and chocolate.
Minnie Price married late in life. Now she is widowed. And starving. No one suspects this respectable church-goer can barely keep body and soul together. Why would they, while she resides in the magnificent home she shared with Peter? Her friends and neighbours are oblivious to her plight and her adult stepchildren have their own reasons to make things worse rather than better. But she is thrown a lifeline when an associate of her late husband arrives with news of an investment about which her step-children know nothing. Can she release the funds before she finds herself homeless and destitute?
Fans of ‘The Hoarder’s Widow’ will enjoy this sequel, but it reads equally well as a standalone.
I recently read Helen Ryan’s book A Contagion of Loss. It is an excellent book and I heartily recommend it but it wasn’t an easy book to read. It’s about how what you do affects me, and how far, then, I should be responsible for you. It’s about how one person’s tragedy seeps out, like a stain, tainting others.
It got me thinking about fiction and its purpose. Of course, we read to escape. We love adventure and romance, travel to different universes and times. We enjoy being intrigued by mysteries. Personally, I don’t read horror or graphic crime novels but I can understand the adrenalin rush for those who do, and, I suppose, after the gore and carnage, doesn’t everyday life feel a whole lot better? Historical novels and science fiction increase our understanding of what has been in the past or could be in the future. We read to be informed, to have our horizons broadened.
Through books, we experience so much more than we ever could in real life. We can live hundreds of lives. But I think that most of all, we read to understand ourselves and each other, and the world we live in. So it’s entirely right that fiction should sometimes deal with the harsher things in life, the uncomfortable truths.
My Widows series is about women whose husbands have died and so, not unreasonably, they include death and grief. They deal with the difficult aftermath of bereavement; loneliness, financial difficulties, anger and the terrible vulnerability that swamps in. In The Hoarder’s Widow Maisie is left to deal with her late husband’s hoard of broken furniture, moth-eaten rugs and horrible pictures. For the first third of the novel she is immured in her home, sorting through dross. It was hard to write but hoarding is a very real issue for some people and how could I understand it myself, or explain it to others, if I didn’t explore it fully? Maisie’s marriage was difficult and Clifford’s addiction impacted his children. These matters, too, are legitimate subjects for fiction, but not easy ones.
In The Widow’s Mite, Minnie’s happy marriage to her husband Peter is cut tragically short after only six years. Unlike Maisie, who is left with a legacy which is unwieldy and burdensome, Minnie is left with literally nothing. The wording of Peter’s Will means that she is destitute. My researches tell me that this is not uncommon.
These are hard things; sad, uncomfortable truths. You might think they are bleak and depressing. I’d say they are thought-provoking and sobering. But I’d argue that they are appropriate subjects for fiction. Why? For several reasons. Firstly, as I mentioned above, exploring them through the safe medium of fiction gives us the opportunity to experience them without actually suffering from them. And, like the readers of horror, we have the privilege of being able to look away of it gets too much. We gain new understanding. Personally, I have much more sympathy for those hoarders we see on TV, not to mention their families. I know, now, that it’s an illness. After writing The Widow’s Mite I am more awake to just how prevalent poverty is in this so-called civilised, modern, first-world I live in. Thank goodness, I have never been widowed, but I believe I understand, just a little, what that feels like.
Last, of all, these are stories, not documentaries, and so they have hopeful endings. There is light, there is resolution. Maisie and Minnie both find solace in a group of women friends. Their banter, their sozzled nights out and antics during their trips away bring balance and relief. Maisie does manage to disassemble Clifford’s hoard. Her family, though affected by the shadow of their father’s addiction, moves forward to brighter times. Minnie is not left to starve and she finds in herself a deep well of compassion for those who, like her, have hit hard times. Both women find that with the help of friends, the support of family and with their own innate emotional strength and natural resilience, their grief gradually fades. For Maisie, there is even the possibility of new love, which I hope to develop in the future.
I write the kind of books I like to read. My hope is that I’m also writing the books you like to read. Please let me know by commenting on Jane’s blog site, or by reaching out to me via email. You can do this via my website.
Thank you to Jane for hosting me today.
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.
Verity seems to have it all. A beautiful home, two grown-up sons and a husband who has always been her rock. But one day, the doorbell rings. And it changes Verity’s life forever.
Saskia has nowhere else to go. Before she died, her mother left her with her father’s name and nothing else. The only way for Saskia to take care of herself – and her unborn baby – is to find the father she never knew. And the family that didn’t know she existed.
This family secret means the end of everything they’ve ever known. But could it also be the chance for a new beginning?
I received a copy of this book from Aria-Fiction in return for an honest review.
Verity is coming to terms with an empty nest, her two boys are at university and her husband’s new job means he’s away a lot of the time. She is a teacher, helping young people who struggle with learning. She has good friends and knows she can build, a new life.
On her first day alone, she has an unexpected visitor, a young woman Saskia. When she finds out, why she’s there, Verity is understandably stunned. Despite her wariness, she takes control and doesn’t judge. Attempting to achieve the best outcome for everyone, in a difficult and unexpected situation.
Saskia is in an emotional wilderness, recently bereaved, pregnant, with the baby’s father overseas, she is looking for a lifeline. Nathan, Verity’s husband, who Saskia believes is her father, is it. In reality, it’s Verity, not Nathan who is driving force. This story is about women, and how they cope with crises and keep the family together.
The story is emotional. The characters and their motivations are believable, and the plot although simple showcases this character-driven story well. The pacing and writing style, are classical, with the emphasis on narrative and retro dialogue. This doesn’t detract from the story, just gives it a distinctive voice that will appeal to many readers of family drama and relationships.
The ending offers realistic hope for future happiness and the possibility of a follow-up story.
Guest Post – Minna Howard – A Mother’s Secret
Idea for the plot for A Mother’s Secret
Ideas for books are often a mystery and when one pops in your mind it is a great relief to set off on a hopefully, exciting journey.
Before the arrival of reliable testing, men could never be sure if they were the biological father of a child. Apparently, in upper-class Victorian families, as long as a wife had given her husband an heir and a spare, no one took much notice if any other babies appeared in the nursery.
Now with modern testing, a person can find out who fathered them, which in itself has caused many upsets as well as joy. There have been such true stories in the press recently and they make a good plot for a novel.
Young men, (or not so young) might have affairs on holiday while far away from home and leave behind a child and never know. It was this situation that caught my imagination as a plot for A Mother’s Secret.
Also, the good old, ‘what would happen if?’ comes into it. Imagine how such a surprise might rock a stable marriage, if this cuckoo in the nest suddenly appears on the doorstep, needing help and support. A decent, loving husband who’d never been ‘unfaithful’ to his wife, though had had a few flings before he met her when he was young and fancy-free, discovers now, to his surprise and even horror, that that time has produced a person who is part of him. How does it affect the family, the other children and his wife?
I usually write about families, decent people chugging along, doing their best until something or someone, barges in to overturn everything they believed in, change the dynamics of their family.
Will they survive it, become stronger, or might it be the last straw to break its back?
And what of the ‘child’, how do they feel and how do they and indeed their ‘baggage’ fit into this already established family, how do they all end up?
Minna has had an exciting career in fashion journalism and now writes full time, whilst enjoying time with her grandsons and working as an occasional film and TV extra. She lives in London.
Cassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy headteacher at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns. So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being ‘outed’ at a village charity auction – he has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.
As if it weren’t enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the front of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.
But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet…
I received a copy of this book from Aria in return for an honest review.
A lovely mix of humour and romance set in a vibrant English village.
Cassie’s world crumbles when she finds out her husband and best friend are having an affair, starting a new job as a Deputy Headteacher seems impossible, how will she survive the gossip. Cassie’s life takes on the appearance of a roller coaster, but she discovers she likes who she has become.
The plot is pacy and full of twists and the characters bring the setting to life, and you feel part of the community. Cassie is a great character, easy to empathise, and the story has so many laugh-out-loud moments that it’s guaranteed to brighten up a dull day.
The romance is gentle and unexpected and the not without its challenges but the ending is worth the angst and makes you want more of Westenbury and its inhabitants.
Extract From A Village Affair – Julie Houston
An hour had passed, the starter – a doughy, tepid mushroom vol-au-vent – had been served and, in some cases eaten with gusto; in most, attempted and left on the sides of plates. Fi and I, enjoying the champagne and Clare’s tale involving her latest conquest – a traffic warden whom she took up to her office in order to avoid a parking ticket – had to be shushed by Tina as Mark took the auctioneer’s stand and someone on the front table affected a drum roll with a couple of side plates on its wooden top.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 2017 Midhope Families in Need appeal. The majority of us here in this room will never understand what some families have to go through just to survive and stay together…’ Mark paused theatrically and surveyed the room, smiling. ‘… So, dig deep in those pockets, refill your glasses and let’s get going with the first ten lots in your booklet this evening.’
I felt tears threaten and swallowed hard. Mark had always been determined to put others first, but even so, it was ridiculous to be still so in love with one’s husband after all these years. Fi and Clare were laughing at me: they knew how Mark and I felt about each other.
‘Simon, are you ready?’ As soon as the auction for Lot four – the villa in Portugal – was about to start, Tina shook Simon’s arm none too gently and the white wine he’d been about to lift to his mouth spilt over both their hands. Tina glared at him. ‘Look, I really want this. Do you want me to do it? Shall I bid…?’
Simon was very drunk.
He staggered to his feet with the auction pamphlet in one hand and, after stabilising himself by grabbing the loose folds of the starched white tablecloth, refilled his glass and immediately downed it in one.
‘So, we come to Lot four. A really fabulous villa in Carvoeiro in Portugal…’ The sound of Mark’s steady, encouraging tone momentarily distracted my attention from Simon, who was now standing calmly to my left. Only his eyes, glittering almost manically, portrayed how much alcohol he’d consumed.
‘… We’re up to £2,000. Come on, a fabulous villa for fourteen must be worth a lot more than this. Who’ll give me £2,200?’ Mark smiled at the guests in front of him. He wasn’t going to hurry this; he knew he was on to a winner with this villa.
‘Mr Auctioneer,’ Simon shouted loudly and the whole room turned, surprised, towards our table ‘… Mr Mark Fucking Auctioneer. Tell you what. You stop shagging my wife, as you’ve been doing for the last… um, let me see… two years isn’t it…? You stop shagging my wife and I’ll give you however much you think that’s worth…
Julie Houston is the author of The One Saving Grace, Goodness, Grace and Me and Looking for Lucy, a Kindle bestseller top100 general, and a Kindle bestseller Number1. She is married, with the two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.