Eve and Gregg were the perfect couple, with the perfect marriage…which has become the perfect lie. Gone is the charming, attentive Gregg – instead, Eve wakes up each morning beside a manipulative and sinister man who controls his wife’s every move.
So Eve flees her immaculate marital home to keep herself, and young son Jack safe. Yet no matter how careful she has been, she knows Gregg will be relentless in his pursuit of his missing family. And that one day, when she’s least expecting it, he will find them…
What was Eve’s greatest mistake?
Marrying Gregg? Leaving him? Or leaving him alive…?
I creep nervously into my own home; listening. Silence. Keys clasped tightly in my hand. No obvious signs of an intruder, no kicked-down doors or shattered crockery strewn across the floor. My heart pounds in my ears like a damp drum as I slink through the kitchen towards the back door. Startled, as a dark shadow thuds at the window. I jump and drop my keys. The minute sound of my keys hitting hard floor fills the room. ‘Christ, Humphrey, why did you do that?’ He waits in total nonchalance at the foot of the door outside. I rattle the handle and breathe again. Thank God, I did lock the door.
But still, there is something alien dangling in the air. If I didn’t know better, if the door had been unlocked, I’d swear someone has been in my home.
I pull open the door to an appreciative ball of fluff; he wraps himself around my legs. Purring. I pick him up and snuggle my face into indulgent fur, allowing my heartbeat to return to baseline. ‘You’re coming upstairs with me, mister, keep me company whilst I get ready for work. Frightening me like that, how could you? Haven’t you realised you’re living with a neurotic woman?’
I survey the sitting room as I creep through, before gingerly taking the stairs, still half-expecting someone to jump out. ‘What’s wrong with me, Humph, eh? Why can’t you talk to me? Did you see anyone?’ I sneak along the landing towards my bedroom, stopping to check Jack’s room first, all the usual potential hiding places. The wardrobe, under the bed. Nothing but used crockery – Jack and his blinking late-night cereal cravings. Still, with Humphrey purring in my arms, I move on to my room.
I place him on my bed, where he immediately stretches out to fill the abstract shape of sun rays. ‘So tell me, Humph, to pull myself together. No one’s been in the house. The door was locked, and there’s no other way in.’ Big round eyes glare back at me before he begins his grooming process. ‘No useful words of wisdom, eh? Anything will do? Or have you been silenced? Coerced to the dark side?’ He gives me the look of disdain only cats can do. ‘I get it, you’re just refusing to humour me. Wise move.’
I convince myself it’s safe for the moment. I need to get a move on for work. An invigorating shower of soft florals, all the time with a watchful eye on the door. Only panicking when the shampoo temporarily obscures my vision, rinsing it through as quickly as if my life depends on it. Not long later, I leave the house, double-checking the locks. Not bad, a transformation from home-comfort clothes to a tailored azure dress. Softly applied make-up, coral lips. Elegant shoes with a sharp distinguishing echo. Finally, my files, mobile and diary. All in less than thirty minutes. Trepidation has its perverse benefits.
Ready for another borrowed day.
Choosing where to open my clinic was easy. I peered through sash windows before a toadying agent opened the door to the pretty, terraced, Cornish sandstone and slate building. Proudly nestled between its charming, unassuming neighbours. Two mottled slate steps lead the way to the solid wood door of 39b Lemon Street. Warm, humble and crammed with character. Inside, a large reception window films passing life, sweeping down to the heart of Truro. ‘Sometimes, things just feel right,’ I’d agreed with the toady agent.
Knowing Ruan, my fresh-faced, uncomplicated-by-life assistant, will always be there to open up first is a blessing. Despite his ungodly early morning jaunt to catch the sunrise waves. He’s then usually followed by Bea, the physiotherapist who sublets a room. Today, when I push through the door, characteristically late, the sunlight fills the reception area, elbowing through the leaded window. The cream slatted blinds are pulled back tight to allow shimmering beams to create a warming ambience. Thoughtful shadows grace the archetypal dense walls. Not all shadows are dark, I remind myself.
Thrillers based on domestic violence are a favourite psychological thriller theme, but this one makes an impact because of its professional language and authenticity. It’s not easy to read, the author jumps between timelines, the abuser and his victims but although it is sometimes difficult to follow, it makes it realistic and believable.
The premise drew me in, and in many ways, it does fulfil its promise. The descriptions of Eve’s life with Gregg are detailed and vivid. There’s no doubt about his systematic destruction of her. For me, there is too much detail and too many examples of abuse. I don’t need to drown in detail to understand.
His pursuit of her after ten years is carried out with similar ruthless intent. Again this is overlong for me; the medical detail sometimes detracts from the story’s compelling suspense element. The characters are not easy to empathise. Mainly due to the writing style relying more on narration than showing how the characters feel through their actions and emotions.
Overall it is a promising debut, with explicit professional knowledge and experience, a little more storytelling and a little less professional speke would make this a real page-turner.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Sarah Simpson has a first-class honours degree in Psychology and has worked in a neuro-psychology department at a Brain Rehabilitation Hospital. When she first graduated she formed a mental health consultancy and worked as a psychologist within the family court system of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. Three years ago she moved to Cornwall with her husband and three children and runs her own practice in Truro. Her Greatest Mistake is her first novel, and she is currently working on the second.
Oliver Foxley is an acclaimed movie star and global heartthrob. But under the glare of the spotlight his ‘perfect’ life – and marriage -is slowly starting to crumble.
Cara Penhaligon is a struggling young Cornish artist and widowed mother of two children. Life has been unbearably harsh to Cara, but meeting Oliver might just give her a second chance at the happiness she deserves. As each begins to heal the other, the pieces of Oliver’s frustrating jigsaw puzzle effortlessly fall into place. But as the Cornish summer draws to a close, Oliver faces the toughest of choices, and no one emerges quite as they were at the start.
This story is so much more than the holiday romance the title suggests. The cove is a special place, aesthetically beautiful but with a tightly knit community looking out for one another. Not all of the inhabitants were born there, but they all recognise its importance.
Oliver is a famous actor, but like most people, he has both a public and private face. He battles endogenous depression, so at odds with his extrovert persona as an actor. His wife fiercely protects his image and their family but doesn’t understand this side of him. Cara is a working artist, whose talent knows no bounds but is restricted by her need to be there for her young family since the untimely death of her young husband.
The storytelling in this book is first class, instantly drawing you into the cove’s community, visualising the coastal setting and wanting to know more about the people who live there. The intricate plot reveals Cara and Oliver’s stories until serendipity draws them together. Internal conflict is paramount in this story but interspersed with mystery, suspense and romance. The characters are well written and believable, and more than one is a little sinister.
The final chapters are heartrending and poignant and maintain Cara and Oliver’s authenticity.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Kate Ryder has worked in a number of industries including publishing, mainly as a proof-reader/copy editor and writer for a national newspaper, magazines and publishing houses. A member of the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists Association, in 2013 she published her debut novel, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, a timeslip romance and mysterious ghost story, which was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 “Search for a Star” and also honoured with a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” Award. Kate lives in a renovated 200-year-old sawmill in the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.
Jess has lived at the idyllic flower farm on the Isles of Scilly her whole life, but when her boyfriend Adam leaves without explanation, Jess discovers that even her little slice of Cornish heaven can be lonely.
For the first time in Will’s life, he’s met someone he can’t stop thinking about. But nothing is simple when the woman of your dreams is working for you.
Gaby is running away from painful memories, and where could be more perfect than a remote island off the Cornish coast? But to put the past behind her, she must keep moving … however much she might want to stay.
Nothing is simple, even in paradise. Will love bloom for the residents of the little Cornish Isles?
There’s nothing like flowers and a picturesque island to make you think of Spring and the second book in the Little Cornish Isles series – ‘The Flower Farm’ does that. If you’ve read the first book in the series ‘The Driftwood Inn’, you’ll remember that Will and Jess run the flower farm on St Saviour.
Jess thought she’d found ‘the one’ but Adam’s behaviour changes without explanation, he leaves, and she is heartbroken.
Will is all about work but meeting Gaby makes him question his outlook on life but it’s complicated, she’s a temporary worker on the flower farm, so he’s her boss, and she’s not planning to stay around, maybe it’s best if he does nothing?
After a family tragedy, Gaby is running and determined to live life to the full. The Isles of Scilly are remote enough for her to heal but she never thought she would meet someone who would make her want to stay, maybe it’s best he doesn’t feel the same way?
Romance, humour and sadness all vie for attention in this lovely story, the setting is beautiful with plenty of intrinsic characters to make it come alive. The story’s main protagonists are complex and likeable, and the plot has more than a few surprises. Living life in the moment is the message of this feel-good read and its the perfect sentiment for Spring, enjoy, I did.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
When Ella’s beloved grandmother dies, she comes back to the beautiful Cornish coast to heal her heart. There she finds her home again and discovers a new life, and new love… But she also opens a treasure trove of secrets.
Sennen left Cornwall a young single mum but unable to cope. She left her children, her family and part of her. She’s spent the years hiding from her past, hiding from herself. Now it’s time to come back. To Cornwall. To face her mistakes. To pray for forgiveness. To hope for a future with her daughter.
‘Coming Home’ is the pain and secrets of three generations of women intricately woven into a beautiful, emotional tapestry of, atonement, forgiveness, love and sacrifice. Believable, complex, flawed characters struggle to come to terms with their past losses and mistakes.
The story revolves around Sennen who at seventeen leaves her two young children in her parents’ care and runs away. Years later after the death of her mother Adela, Sennen returns, wanting to atone and receive forgiveness from the children she left behind. Ella returns to Cornwall to rebuild her life after her grandmother’s death. She was the only mother she ever knew and learning to live without her is hard, Kit her boyfriend is the rock she needs to lean on, and their deepening romance provides a thread of hope in a sad story full of lost opportunity and misunderstanding.
The cleverly layered plot reveals that Sennen’s actions are not as selfish as they first appear, having two children at such a young age, stems from her insecurity and lack of guidance from her bohemian parents, they love her, but they don’t guide her.Naive, she lacks perspective and makes impulsive decisions without considering the consequences for herself and those she loves.
With timeslips back to the courtship of Sennen’s parents, Bill and Adela and Sennen’s life after she leaves home, the conflict she faces from her son Henry, her guilt and the reasons why she has left it so long to return to her children are easier to understand.
The pacing makes this story easy to read and the characters draw you into their lives. There is a thought-provoking twist in this gentle story that illustrates that there are always two points of view and sometimes forgiveness and making a new start is the only way to heal.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
When Layla Rivers’ boyfriend of 12 years skips out on their round-the-world trip of a lifetime – without her – she does what experience has taught her to do best, hide away in the cosy Cornish village she calls home. But any hopes of laying low soon disappear when Hollywood’s hottest star & mutual acquaintance, the gorgeous Nick Wells, crash lands on her couch…naked!
For Nick, Cornwall is supposed to be an escape from both his problems and the limelight, yet as the stars align and disarming Layla bursts into his world, his life only gets more complicated.
Will Nick and Layla fight against the undeniable connection between them or, under the warmth of the Cornish sun, will they follow their hearts’ desires?
A lovely, romantic tale, which documents Layla’s roller-coaster emotional ride when her boyfriend of twelve years, leaves her to travel the world when she needs him most. Layla is the family member and friend everybody wants. She always puts everyone’s needs before her own. Her serendipitous meeting with Nick, film star, and twin of her best friend’s husband gives her the chance to put her needs first by indulging in a no-strings affair. While Nick’s reputation as a ‘player’ appears exaggerated, his fear of commitment is not. He is looking to escape the media attention before the latest scandal in his life hits the headlines. A holiday romance which helps Layla regain her self-esteem is the perfect rest cure. There are some humorous characters in this story but more poignancy and heartache than laughs but with plenty of sizzling romance and enough conflict to make the plot interesting this is an enjoyable lighthearted read. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
There’s nothing more magical than a winter wonderland wedding but when photographer Holly North returns to the cosy village of St Aidan she’s determined to avoid romance and the festive season full stop. She’s doing one small favour for a friend’s wedding and then her plans involve diving under her duvet and avoiding any sign of Christmas cheer – and gorgeous but insufferable Rory Sanderson – for the rest of December!
That is until Christmas arrives at Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s enchanting and most adorable little wedding shop. The champagne is on ice while mistletoe hangs from every nook and Holly’s friends at the shop are determined she’ll live up to her festive name.
Another Christmas time at the ‘Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’ and this one features the appropriately named Holly, who grew up in the Cornish coastal town and returns for a holiday, hoping to bypass Christmas entirely after the trauma of the previous year’s festive period. Holly is a likeable character. When she returns to her hometown, she finds that little has changed, as she reacquaints with old school friends and her former teenage crush, Rory. Holly, a food photographer, agrees to take wedding photos for a friend, which leads to a whole unexpected adventure. Finding it hard to say no to people she cares about, Holly is fully involved with the ‘Little Wedding Shop’ and much to her dismay Rory and his niece and nephew who he is babysitting. The plot is simple but what makes it interesting is the detailed descriptions, which give the story its vivacity and the lovely blend of old and new characters who resonate and make you believe in them and the setting.There is everything required for a lighthearted, feel-good Christmas read, Romance, children, snow and goodwill. This book will leave you with a warm festive feeling when you’ve finished reading it. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.
She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?
Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.
A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?
A festive, gentle romantic story with complex characters and an interesting plot. The story concentrates on opening the café and there are lots of new characters. One threatens Cal’s new found happiness with Demi. A lot happens in this story. Demi achieves her potential by leading the café project. She carries more than her share of emotional baggage and this influences how she perceives her relationship with Cal. Cal continues to battle his own secret demons, leaving him moody and unapproachable. He’s a good guy at heart and you want him to overcome the horrors of his past. There are some unexpected plot twists and surprising character developments, which illustrate the village’s comaradie and the overriding spirit of the novel. A good mix of questions answered and new ones posed make reading the last book in the series essential. There is no cliff-hanger ending but it is hopeful, just as a festive read should be. I can’t help thinking the problems for Cal, Demi and their friends may not be over yet. Cal and Demi are the contemporary counterparts of Poldark and Demelza and Cornwall steals the show in this novel too. I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.
But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?
As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:
I like this atmospheric tale, which uses its mystical Cornwall setting cleverly to enhance the suspense. The plot is twisty and spine chilling, building up to the most devastating secret. The characters and events are vividly written and the first person point of view makes the story frightening real. In contrast to the mystery and thrills, there is a poignant story of loss and abuse, which gives the story its authenticity. Rachel has an ideal life; love, an enchanting stepson and a beautiful house but not surprisingly everything is not what it seems. Strange happenings and dangerous confidences mar Rachel’s idyll and force her to face her painful past and secrets she has kept hidden. David is a slave to his family heritage and keeping up appearances. Grief stricken Jamie struggles between reality and imagination or is it all in Rachel’s mind? An interesting psychological thriller, with plenty of emotion and flawed characters to keep it believable. I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.
Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…
Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?
Christmas in Cornwall is definitely on my wish list, so reading about a Christmas wedding in this idyllic part of England is the next best thing. I really enjoyed ‘Cupcakes and Confetti’, book one in the ‘Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’ and it’s great to reacquaint with some of the characters. Overseeing her sister’s wedding is the stuff of nightmares for Sera, the bohemian wedding dress designer, especially when she has to work with the sexy but wild best man Quinn. Told from Sera’s point of view, the story has a diary like quality, which makes the reader’s experience more intense and personal. Sera is a lovely character, the complete antithesis of her sister. Despite their differences and past hurts, there is an unbreakable bond between them. Sera wants Alice to have the perfect wedding, even if it means working beyond her comfort zone and risking her heart with ‘The Best Man’. Alice’s wedding is plagued with seemingly insurmountable problems but Sera wants her to have her happy day, and is determined to do whatever it takes. Maybe it’s just what Sera needs, something to focus on, beyond her design bloc. Like all the best romantic comedy, the storytelling is image rich. It’s so easy to imagine the setting at the wedding shop, the farm and the lovely country house. The characters are vividly portrayed and the dialogue is easy to read and full of humour. A lovely romantic tale full of Christmas spirit. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This weeks Author Blog Challenge is ‘The Best Holiday I Ever Had’. I’ve been thinking about this and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one holiday. So I’ve decided to highlight my favourite holidays and why, from childhood to my first holiday as a gran.
Holidays weren’t a big feature of my childhood but one that stands out is a holiday in Cornwall in the late sixties, when we stayed in St Agnes Bay and Penzance. I remember making a friend at the holiday camp we stayed at and eating butterscotch, we had a photo at Lands End and my parents bought me the cute cat ornament, which I still have today. Other holidays were in Bournemouth and there were always day trips to Mablethorpe on the east coast of England.
Camping holidays with youth club are the standout memories from my teenage holidays. Camping is not really me, the ground is too hard and I always get cold and dislike sharing my tent with a variety of insects. Nevertheless I always enjoyed these trips, especially the one where I got to know my future husband, we celebrate thirty three years of marriage today, so that was definitely a holiday worth going on.
My honeymoon should be my standout holiday of my twenties and it was lovely. Cornwall again, we went to Newquay, sun sea and lots of lovely memories. I visited a vintage kitchen shop in Penzance and bought some glass storage jars with cork lids and I still have them thirty three years later obviously a good buy!
I was first introduced to The English Lake District in my mid twenties and the scenery and beautiful lakes are still a favourite holiday destination of mine. So much so there are the inspiration for my first book The Dragon Legacy.
Brighton was the destination of my last twenties holiday with my lovely daughter 8 months old – Such a lovely time .
Holidays with my children
These were certainly fun. Bournemouth and Devon were favourite destinations. We even stayed in the prestigious Sandbanks. Woolacombe was another favourite, great for kids and dogs.
We also had a few holidays in Europe during this time. A camping trip to France’s Verdun region , turned out to be short-lived , after only four days we had to home as my mother was seriously ill. Holidays in The Costa Dorada in Spain and Lake Garde in Italy were more successful, although we did manage to get lost both times driving from the airport, not the best start to a holiday but the rest of it was full of great memories, as you can see from the photos. My trip to Lake Garde inspired the setting for my second book ‘The Revenge Masquerade’.
Regular blog readers will know I love Northumberland, I first visited in 2014 and went again this year with my new grandson Arthur. The weather wasn’t fantastic but we still had a good time.
I’m hoping my next holiday in Woolacombe in September will be full of good memories too. I’m really looking forward to holidaying with my kids and little grandson and Jazz and Oby of course. We’re staying close to the wonderful child and dog friendly beach so look out for more blogs on this in September.
So that’s a whistle stop tour of my holiday memories. Share your holiday memories with me in the comments below or on #LifeBooksWriting