Should first love be left in the past, or is first love, forever love…
Sisters Annie and Jess are used to their mother Julia being spontaneous. But when Julia announces she’s flying off to Rome to meet her first love Patrick, whom she hasn’t seen for fifty years, it’s an adventure too far. So, her daughters decide the only way to keep Julia safe, is to go too – without actually telling their mother she has chaperones!
Julia and Patrick’s love story was everything – epic, once-in-a-lifetime, with a tragic ending and life-long consequences. First love is hard to forget, but sometimes, just sometimes, life delivers a chance to rewrite your story.
As the eternal city of Rome works its magic, old secrets, old friends and old loves become new possibilities and new dreams. And when the four travellers return home, nothing will ever be the same again.
Join Helen McGinn for a timeless, joyous, unforgettable journey through love, family, and long-forgotten dreams.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a multigenerational story with strong female characters and a relatable dynamic between the sisters and their mother. Julia’s three marriages are a source of despair for her daughters, and they don’t want her to make another mistake. Julia has a secret she’s never shared with her children and can’t resist meeting her first love again.
The sisters are different in personality, and despite loving each other, they don’t understand the pressures of their individual lives. There are many poignant moments, particularly in Julia’s story, who was a victim of the judgemental morals in the early 1960s.
The real journey is the emotional one all the characters experience both in the past and present.
This proves to be an engaging family drama.
Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her award-winning blog (and best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning. Helen lives in the New Forest and Boldwood are publishing her debut women’s fiction title in Spring 2021.
Every prince has his secrets. And she’s determined to unravel his…
Every dashing young man in London’s ton is vying for Lady Caroline Hawke’s hand – except one.The handsome, delectable, rogue, Prince Leopold of Alucia can’t quite remember who Caroline is and the insult is not to be tolerated. So Caroline does what any clever, resourceful lady of means would do to make sure a prince remembers her: sees that amusingly risqué morsels about Leo’s reputation are printed in a ladies’ gossip gazette…all the while secretly setting her cap for the rakish royal.
Someone has been painting Leo as a blackguard, but who? Socially, it could ruin him. More important, it jeopardises his investigation into a contemptible scheme that reaches the highest levels of government in London. Now Leo needs Lady Caroline’s help to regain access to society. But this charming prince is about to discover that enlisting the deceptively sweet and sexy Lady Caroline might just cost him his heart, his soul and both their reputations…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
This book gives an astute insight into Victorian royalty and society, but there is also a fairytale quality about it. Caroline is not a typical romantic protagonist, but she has redeeming qualities that emerge as the story progresses. Prince Leopold’s outrageous behaviour hides his innate sense of justice. However, it draws Caroline to him, which is both a blessing and a curse.
The banter between the couple is witty and keeps the story’s momentum. The story is a balance of historical issues and fairytale romance. The love scenes are passionate and the ending in keeping with the story’s ethos.
AMY PIPER IS A LOSER. SHE’S LOST HER CONFIDENCE, HER MOJO AND HER WAY.
But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…
What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.
Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…
Uplifting, funny and unforgettable, Beth Moran returns with a joyous tale of friendship, love and facing your fears.
It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t get woken up by my phone alarm blaring, spring out of bed and decide today was the day. I didn’t open up Facebook and one of those irritating quotes – embrace the rain if you want to dance under the rainbow – actually inspired someone for the first time ever to change something. After cajoling my son, Joey, out of bed, I didn’t gaze at his beautiful face as he poured a second giant bowl of cereal, raving about the school football match coming up, and in a surge of love and regret suddenly experience the pivotal moment in a decade of non-moments.
In fact, apart from the invitation that arrived in the morning post, most of the day went precisely as expected. Which was, in summary, exactly the same as pretty much every other weekday. I waved Joey off to school, reminding him to hand in the form about the meeting that evening and cleared away the breakfast dishes. I worked at my desk in the kitchen, breaking the monotony of writing about corporate social responsibility policies by swanning off to eat lunch in the living room, because that’s the type of wild and crazy woman I am.
I rescued Joey’s football kit from festering on his bedroom floor and stuck it in the wash, because despite telling myself on a daily basis that it’s time he learnt the hard way, circumstances dictate that I also live with an extra-large pile of parental guilt, so I make life easier for him where I can.
By the time Joey came home at four, I had spoken to no one since he left, unless you count talking to myself. Oh, and to the enormous spider who appeared out of nowhere and started edging across the kitchen while I debated whether to have another chocolate cookie or the bag of seeds I’d bought precisely to avoid eating a whole packet of cookies.
‘I’d get out of here if I were you. While your impressive size might earn you respect in the spider world, my son doesn’t take kindly to home invasions by anything with more legs than him, and he’ll be home any minute. Go on, shoo. Or else I’ll have to squish you.’
Too late. While the spider was weighing up whether to heed my advice, Joey burst through the front door, in his usual whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm.
‘Hey, Mum. I’m starving, are there any of those cookies left?’
I clicked save and pushed my chair back to face him. ‘Hi, Joey, and yes, I had an okay day, thanks. How was yours?’
‘Oh. Sorry, yeah. It was good, actually.’ He paused, mid-search of the snack cupboard, to offer an apologetic smile. ‘We did this experiment in science where we had to heat up this white stuff, and— WHAAAAAAT!?’
In an instant, my strapping thirteen-year-old reverted to a frightened child, leaping up to sit on the worktop, cookie packet hugged protectively to his chest.
‘How long’s that been there?’ he shrieked.
‘Why didn’t you tell me the biggest spider in the universe was right behind me?’
It was a pointless question. We had been through this too many times before. Joey knew that the reason I hadn’t told him was because of what would inevitably happen next.
And, in line with the rest of the day’s predictability, it did. After a brief negotiation about Joey’s phobia, the value of the spider’s life and what I was willing and able to do about both these things, given that I didn’t think it was quite worthy of calling either the police or pest control, I ended up scooping the monster arachnid in both hands and facing my own worst nightmare.
‘Ready?’ Joey looked at me with solemn eyes as he gripped the door handle. He tried to keep his voice steady, but the rise and fall of his chest betrayed his terror.
I nodded, aware that my own eyes, while the exact same light brown as my son’s – caramel, his dad used to call them – were darting wildly like two wasps caught in a Coke bottle.
Before I had time to take another wheezing, shallow breath, Joey flung the door open and ducked behind it. I threw myself forwards, crashing against the door frame, eyes now firmly squeezed shut, and flicked my hand outside. A sudden gust of wind sent me reeling back in panic.
‘CLOSE THE DOOR!’ I gasped, clutching at my heart as it careened about my ribcage and stumbling back into the middle of the kitchen.
‘Is it gone? Are you sure it’s gone?’ Joey garbled back.
‘Yes! It’s gone. CLOSE THE DOOR, JOEY, NOW!’
I heard the door slam, took another two calming breaths and forced my eyes to take a peek. ‘Oh, please.’
The spider levelled me an ironic gaze from the welcome mat. It was so humungous I could see the lazy challenge in each of its eight eyes.
‘What? What? What is it? Is it still here?’ Joey spoke from where he’d scrambled behind me.
‘It may have blown back in and now be sitting on the mat.’
Beth Moran is the author of three previous books, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019
Frankie Keegan is struggling. While she tries to make strides in her career, life at home is slowly unravelling as she is haunted by the secrets of her past.
SOMEONE ELSE REMEMBERS…
As the dark nights draw in, the anniversary of the loss of her brother looms and Frankie is drawn back to the memories of that fateful night 20 years previously. As she descends into a guilt-ridden state, she begins to suspect that someone else is also remembering that night and they are determined to terrify her…
Can she confront her past before it’s too late?
From the international bestselling author of The Daughter In Law, a gripping psychological thriller about family, secrecy and grief – with a twist you won’t see coming.
I stood at the top of the stairs and held my breath as my anxiety spiked and my heart pounded in my throat. But I could no longer hear the noise that had drawn me there. As I stood, my foot perched ready to take the first step, I wondered if perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe the events of the last few days had finally caught up with me. But faces were hovering in front of me. Those people I had trusted. And those who I had hurt.
All those years ago I was trying so hard to make a difference in any way I could. But I was young. And I was foolish. I knew the past would never be able to bury itself, and I had not been able to rest for twenty years because the horrors of that day would stay with me until I took my final breath.
But now it was time to face the past head on. I tightened my grip on my weapon and began the descent to the kitchen. I knew I was now in grave danger. I knew that I had to protect my children and face the person who had found their way into my home.
Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.
TWO WOMEN HOLD THE KEYS TO HIS HEART. ONLY ONE WILL SURVIVE THAT FATEFUL NIGHT…
When Ava O’Reilly is wrongly accused of stealing from her employer, she has no option but to flee Ireland. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape – the Titanic.
Aboard the ship of dreams, she runs straight into the arms of Captain ‘Buck’ Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. He is intrigued by her Irish beauty and manages to disguise her as the maid of his good friend, the lovely Countess of Marbury. Little does he realise, that the Countess is also in love with him.
As the fateful night approaches, tragedy strikes further when Ava is separated from Buck, and must make a daring choice that will change her life forever…
A sweeping, emotional historical romance set aboard the Titanic.
This is a revised and fully updated edition of a novel previously published as Titanic Rhapsody.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Ava, wrongly accused of theft by her employer, has no alternative but to run. She is an independent spirit, who knows there is more to life than being a servant. However, her religious upbringing, makes her constantly question her wilder impulses.
The Titanic, on its maiden voyage, calls at Queenstown, she buys a steerage ticket and heads towards what she hopes is a better future. Losing her ticket and being pursued by the authorities before the ship docks set the tone of the journey.
Serendipity means she finds a protector, in Buck, the second son of Duke and an irreverent gambler. He hides her in plain sight as a lady’s maid for his good friend Fiona, The Countess of Mayberry. She is travelling to New York to marry his friend Trey. The chemistry between Buck and Ava is instant and intense, but there are many conflicts to their relationship.
The plot twists dramatically when The Titanic meets its fate, and Ava makes a decision that affects the rest of her life. The setting is glamorous and, because you know what happens to the ship, there are undertones of suspense, wondering what will happen to the protagonists in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The romance is sizzling and forbidden and the characters are complex and relatable.
The last part of the book is full of conflict and romance, against the judgemental setting of New York society. The ending is romantic and shines a little light on such a tragic event.
Extract from The Runaway Girl Jina Bacarr
Cameron Bally Manor House
9 April 1912
‘Ava O’Reilly, you’re nothing but a common thief who brings shame upon this fine house,’ spewed Lord Emsy, wagging his fat finger in her face. ‘What have you to say for yourself, girl?’
‘A thief, am I, milord?’ Ava shot back, refusing to cower before a man so pompous and full of himself, even if he was her employer. With his wing tip collar and fancy silk ascot, he reminded her of a leg of lamb gussied up for Sunday dinner. ‘Says who? Your daughter?’ She narrowed her eyes, staring her accuser down. Lady Olivia greeted her angry look with a swift turning of the head, her nose in the air, but Ava wasn’t finished. ‘I’d rather dance with the devil than believe her.’
His lordship growled. ‘Then you deny stealing the bracelet?’
‘Aye, that I do.’ Ava smoothed down her shiny, black cotton uniform with her hands, making fists and fighting to keep her composure. Him with the glow of damnation in his eyes, accusing her like he was the Almighty Himself. She refused to back down. With the afternoon sun spilling an arc as bright as a pot o’ gold at her feet, she wondered how she, the daughter of a fine Irish mum and da, could be so unlucky. But here she was, accused of thievery because she was caught reading a book in a place where a housemaid had no right to be. The library. Now she was paying the price for her thirst for knowledge.
‘Well, how do you plead?’ asked his lordship.
‘I plead guilty to nothing more than reading your fine books.’
Ignoring her, Lord Emsy bellowed, ‘Then how do you explain this?’
He dangled a slender rope of sparkling diamonds in front of her nose, taking her breath away.
Ava swallowed hard. Each stone was a knot on the noose tightening around her neck.
‘I swear on me sainted mother’s grave, I never seen the likes of that till this morning.’
‘She’s lying, Papa,’ Lady Olivia decried. ‘She stole it from my jewel case and was trying to hide it when I caught her.’
Ava gritted her teeth. They both knew it was a lie.
Aye, what was a lass to do? His lordship’s daughter had hated her since Ava had first crossed paths with her, when she’d used the grand main staircase instead of scuttling down the backstairs. The breach of protocol had not only embarrassed the family, Lady Olivia scolded her, but Ava had attracted the eye of the young gentleman at her side. Lord Holm made no secret of his interest in the servant girl with the glorious red hair spilling down her back. Mary Dolores had warned her about him when Ava joined her sister to work as a housemaid in the grand manor.
A dandy, she had said, always ready to pat the bum of any servant girl he could get into a dark corner.
Did Ava listen to her? No. She was obstinate and bull-headed. A family trait, Mary Dolores admitted, shaking her head. Going through life casting her spell on every man caught looking at her. Ava paid them no mind, going about her way and insisting she didn’t need a man to better herself.
Unfortunately, Ava couldn’t control the wily fates determined to get in her way.
Her relationship with Lady Olivia became even more strained when Lord Holm saw her wearing a discarded dress belonging to her ladyship. Silk with delicate appliqué around the collar and cap sleeves, the vibrant emerald green set off her red hair.
And what was the crime in that, Ava wanted to know, since it was customary for servant girls to lay claim to their mistress’s tossed-away garments.
Her ears burned when she overheard her ladyship say to Lord Holm, ‘You never noticed when I wore that dress,’ to which he replied, ‘You never looked like that.’
His comment sealed her fate.
Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.
SOMETIMES LOVE CAN BLOOM WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT…
For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle.
So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!
But, as she packs up her life in London, she isn’t prepared for the discovery of a clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All of the predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven…
As she prepares for the biggest move of her life, Sarah can’t help but wonder if Seaside Blooms could be a new beginning for love too?
A warm, uplifting novel of love, friendship and destiny from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.
New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is a new, revised and updated edition of a novel previously published as Searching For Steven.
It was now after half six. Sod it! I couldn’t do this anymore.
* To Jason
This is killing me! Where are you taking me? I’m all ready and awaiting my instructions! Please tell me you haven’t forgotten xx
I hoped that reading my birthday cards again would distract me. It didn’t. A little voice in my head kept telling me he had forgotten and Clare’s joke about McDonald’s or my local might not be far from the truth. Perhaps he was frantically phoning round restaurants right now and that’s why he hadn’t been in touch. Another text arrived and, finally, it was from him. Please don’t say McDonald’s…
* From Jason
South Kensington Tube Station. 1915hrs. Table booked for 1930hrs xx
Butterflies stirred in my stomach. Oh my God! South Kensington. Could it be…?
I hastily shoved my phone in my bag, pulled on my coat and left the flat, legs shaking as I strode towards the tube station. It was just a coincidence. There were hundreds of restaurants in South Kensington and we could be going to any of them. With Jason’s track record, it could be McDonald’s. But what if…?
He’d taken me to Luigi’s to celebrate me moving down to London shortly after we started seeing each other. During dessert, the man on the table next to us proposed to his girlfriend. It was such a moving and romantic moment and, on the way home, Jason said that he could imagine proposing there too. But that didn’t mean he’d booked a table there tonight to propose to me, did it?
When I reached South Kensington tube station, it took all my willpower to stand still on the escalator when all I wanted to do was to shove past the travellers, run up the steps, and skip across the concourse screaming, ‘Yes, Jason, I will marry you.’
I spotted him by one of the exits. My breath caught as I saw what he was wearing. Classically tall, dark, and handsome, he looked particularly hot in the three-piece suit he’d bought for his brother’s wedding last summer. After his firefighter uniform, it was my favourite outfit on him. Although to be perfectly honest, with a toned body like his, I preferred no clothes at all.
‘Happy birthday.’ He bent down and gave me a soft kiss. I breathed in his musky scent and those butterflies went crazy. ‘You look good.’
‘Thank you.’ I whipped open my coat like a flasher, revealing the LBD I’d agonised over wearing for fear I’d be overdressed.
He wolf-whistled and I flushed from head to toe. ‘I approve. Although you may be a little over-dressed for what I have planned later tonight.’
I flushed again and Jason laughed as he took my hand in his. ‘Shall we?’
‘Where are we going?’ I tried to sound casual but failed abysmally. Please say Luigi’s. Please.
He winked at me, grinning widely. ‘It’s a surprise.’
Oh my God!
It could only have been three minutes, but I swear that walk felt like an hour. My sweaty hand kept slipping from his, I stumbled several times and I even hiccupped, causing Jason to ask if I’d been on the wine before leaving the flat.
The Italian flag and deep green canopy of Luigi’s loomed ahead of us. My breathing quickened and I mentally prepared myself: must not look gutted if we walk past, must look happy wherever he takes me.
But we didn’t walk past. We stopped. We went in. He gave his name and we were led to a table towards the back where a bucket of champagne on ice was waiting for us. Champagne. Proper Champagne. Jason always said that supermarket own-label Cava was overpriced. Which could only mean… Oh. My. God!
I put my glass of champagne down as Jason pushed the candle aside and reached for my hand across the table a few minutes later.
‘You really do look gorgeous tonight,’ he said.
‘You don’t scrub up too badly yourself,’ I whispered, barely able to speak for anticipation of what was coming.
His dark eyes twinkled as he gazed at me over the table. ‘Thank you. I thought I should make a special effort. It’s a special occasion, after all.’
‘I haven’t given you your birthday present yet.’
WHEN IT FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING IS AGAINST YOU, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A LITTLE BIT OF HOPE…
Married to her childhood sweetheart for over twelve years, Elise feels like starting a family is the next natural step. However, her husband, Gary, has other ideas…
Suddenly single, Elise is completely heartbroken and struggling to start over on her own. But when she’s enlisted to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sarah, she has to put on a brave face, put her own feelings aside and find a way to get over Gary. Fast.
So when she meets handsome, recently-divorced, Daniel, she thinks he could be just what she needs. But why can’t she shake the feeling that he must be too good to be true?
Will she ever be able to take that leap and trust again?
An uplifting read of love, loss and finding yourself from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.
This book was previously published as Getting Over Gary
‘I have exciting news,’ Jess announced when we’d placed our food orders. ‘Bay Brides called earlier and the bridesmaid dresses are ready early. They’ll be in on Wednesday so I’ve made an appointment for a fitting a week tomorrow at two. Are you free?’
I grinned at my younger sister – a shorter, slimmer version of myself. ‘How exciting!’
‘We don’t have any plans for next Saturday, do we?’ I asked, turning to face Gary.
‘I don’t know about you, but I’ll be going into the surgery.’
I frowned. ‘I thought you were going in tomorrow.’
‘I’m doing both. Maybe the one after too.’
It was on the tip of my tongue to say, ‘But we always spend weekends together,’ but what was the point? I had two choices: confront Gary and spoil the whole evening or ignore him and focus on my little sister’s news. Forcing a bright smile, I said, ‘Two’s perfect. Can Izzy and Megan make it?’ The wedding was less than three months away on the first Saturday in August. I was chief bridesmaid, supported by Jess’s best friend, Izzy, and Izzy’s four-year-old daughter, Megan.
Jess nodded. ‘I texted Izzy earlier. They’ve got no plans.’
‘Brilliant. Do you know when your dress will be ready?’
‘Four weeks later. I managed to order a bigger size just in time and I’m desperately hoping it will still fit on the day.’
I frowned. ‘Why would you need a bigger size? You haven’t put on weight, have you?’
Jess and Lee exchanged big grins.
‘She hasn’t,’ Lee said. ‘Well, not yet anyway…’
I gasped as realisation hit. ‘Oh my goodness! Are you saying…?’
‘We had our twelve-week scan this afternoon and everything’s looking good. In fact, it’s looking doubly good.’
I gasped again and clapped my hand over my mouth. ‘Twins?’
Jess nodded and I let out a little squeal as I leapt up and dashed round the table to hug them both.
‘Congratulations you two,’ Gary said. ‘Wow! Twins? Two kids? That’s some news!’ He stood up, shook Lee’s hand and kissed Jess on the cheek.
‘I can’t believe it!’ I sat down again. ‘My baby sister’s having her own babies, which means I’m going to be an auntie. I’m so excited for you both. Twins? That’s so amazing. And that’s cause for celebration.’ I signalled a waiter and ordered a round of drinks including a very large glass of wine for myself, then giggled as I added, ‘Make that two. One per baby.’
*Winner of Chill With a Book Book of the Year 2019 Award as Dreaming About Daran*
FOR CLARE O’CONNELL, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART ACHES…
Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules: 1. Don’t talk about Ireland 2. Don’t think about Ireland 3. Don’t go to Ireland 4. Don’t let anyone in
And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future is all that counts, isn’t it?
However Clare is about to realise that you can run from the past, but you can’t always hide from it…
When her boss insists she travels to Ireland for work, Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty – the home of her family, and the home of her secrets. The one place where vowed never to return to again…
With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Will Clare stick to rule number four?
Can she be brave and face up to her family and the demons of her past?
An emotional novel of family, friendship and dealing with your past from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.
This book was previously published as Dreaming About Daran.
‘Your friend Pete was right,’ I said when the closing credits started rolling. ‘Cracking film. What did you think?’
‘I agree. The king thing was a spooky coincidence, don’t you think?’
In the film, best friends Edmond and Fernand exchange a chess king when one of them overcomes a challenge, to symbolise who is ‘king of the moment’.
I nodded towards the king nestled in his fruit bowl. ‘Did you plant it there knowing it was in the film?’
Ben shook his head. ‘Honestly, I’ve never seen the film or read the book so I didn’t know about the chess piece. I genuinely found that bad boy sitting on my doorstep, just like I told you.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Have you ever known me to lie?’
He made a good point. He was one of the most honest people I knew, although, unlike me, he was tactful with his honesty. Generous to a fault, ridiculously considerate of others and gifted in spades with patience, Ben definitely deserved his nickname of ‘Saint Ben’. By contrast, I could be pretty blunt and to the point, not particularly patient and quite selfish. I was lucky he only called me ‘Irish’ because I probably deserved something a little less affectionate.
‘Tell you what we can do.’ He grinned at me, wrinkled his nose in a clear act of mischief, then lifted the king out of the fruit bowl. Picking up a chilli pepper discarded from his curry in his other hand he said, ‘If you eat the whole chilli, you win the king.’
I was about to refuse his stupid challenge, but then he added, ‘I bet you can’t do it.’
Defiantly, I picked up the chilli and shoved it in my mouth. Tears streamed down my face, my nose ran like a tap and my head felt as if it were about to explode. But that king was going to be mine. Nobody told me what I could and couldn’t do and I would come out on top whenever challenged. Always.
‘Oh my God! I can’t believe you just did that.’ Ben handed me a box of tissues. ‘Serious respect to you, Irish.’
I gasped for breath and rasped, ‘Wait till I tell your sister what a mean boy you are.’
He laughed. ‘You’re king of the moment, Irish. He’s all yours.’
And so it began.
Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels including Searching for Steven which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.