Emily Adams has reached a breaking point. Her boyfriend pushed her down the stairs, breaking her arm, and now she’s found herself in an unfamiliar city with fifteen cents in her pocket and nowhere to go. She’s decided that all that’s left for her, is to take matters into her own hands and put an end to her misery…
Until an encounter with a magic man in a dress changes everything.
In a story full of humor and heart, The Very Real World of Emily Adams shows that there is hope in darkness, triumph in tragedy, and the moment when things are at their worst is when you hold on the hardest, because you never know what good things are waiting for you on the other side of despair.
The Very Real World of Emily Adams by Samantha Rose
The first thing I noticed was the silence. It wasn’t the sort of silence we’d had in our conversation on the drive there, where it wasn’t really silence—there’d been the background noises of air rushing past us, of the fan, the engine. This… this was a different kind of silence. There were no crickets. There was no wind. It was the kind of silence I imagined falling over the funeral of a horrible person who’d died a horrible death, where the few in the audience were too shocked and disturbed to shed a single tear, and the pastor had no words of solace to give.
Then there was the darkness. I couldn’t see anything beyond the still blades of grass and the figure of the farmhouse touched by the headlights. Off in the distance, I thought I could see the very first violet rays of morning, but other than that…
Nothe wrung his fingers a little. A faint, uneasy emotion radiated from him. “You know, maybe you should stay in the truck.”
I remembered what had happened the last time I’d done that. I grabbed the notebook and pen, saying, “That’s okay. I’m here to help and take notes, so yeah! Put me to work.”
He looked as though he were about to argue against this, but then he brightened. “Well, okay then. If you insist.” He popped open the door and got out. I did likewise, meeting him in the glow of the headlights. We stared up at the quaint, country style house. It had a porch lined with chipped, white columns that wrapped all the way around the eastern corner. It would’ve been a darling home that reminded me of my grandma’s, if not for the darkened windows and the feeling of gloom that weeped from them, and the smell of dead, decaying things that permeated the air.
Nothe said cheerfully, “Let’s start with the house.”
My eyes widened. “Why? I thought we were trying to avoid the farmers.”
“Well, I think if they were home, they’d have seen us pull up, don’t you?”
“Yes. Let’s make things worse by spying on them through their windows.”
“Oh, no. That won’t be necessary. The front door is wide open. See?”
He pointed to the wall where the porch ended. I wasn’t sure how I’d missed it, but he was right. The door was wide open, leading into black emptiness. I swore, for the briefest moment, I saw two, glowing yellow orbs peering out from the edge of the doorway before disappearing from view.
I blinked. I rubbed my eyes, my face. That’d just been a trick of the light, right? I hadn’t actually seen… what I thought I saw…
I looked up at Nothe. It might’ve been my imagination, but I thought he looked a little paler and slightly more serious than he had the last time I’d glanced at his face. I asked him, “Did you see that, too?”
Samantha Rose is a forever-student at Utah State University, who will one day have her Masters Degree in Psychology. She wrote her first novel in permanent marker on her sister’s vanity chair when she was three-years-old. It wasn’t well received.
She currently resides in the mountains, in a little house full of toys, where she’s enjoying her happily ever after with her Prince Charming and three adorable, little bears.
When Crystal’s pimp, protector and former lover, Gilly, dies of a drugs overdose Crystal is bereft. She refuses the paid protection of a rival pimp, determined to go it alone. But a vicious beating from a client leaves her feeling vulnerable and angry.
Meanwhile, Crystal’s daughter, Candice, is asking difficult questions about her job. Crystal decides it’s time to make some changes, and, when a high-profile judge offers her payment to keep schtum about his nefarious activities, it gives her an idea. Perhaps other clients will also pay for her silence…
Crystal engages on a revenge mission to rob, blackmail and expose her most depraved clients. But some of these men are highly dangerous and, if Crystal wants to exact her plan of revenge, she must accept the risks that go with it.
Heather Burnside is back with this breath-taking, heart-racing series
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus -Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The third book in the gritty and gripping working girls series features Crystal. Addicted to alcohol and drugs, Crystal reaches an all-time low when her partner and pimp Gilly dies. It’s decision time for Crystal. She chooses to fight against her addictions and take revenge against her worst clients. Blackmail forms the basis of Crystal’s exit strategy from her old life, but she fails to see the inherent dangers.
Crystal’s significant character development makes the ending positive in this story of redemption and revenge. Characterised by a pacy, twisty plot and positive female protagonists working girls is an addictive series worth reading.
Crystal – Heather Burnside – Extract
Ruby was becoming irritated as she listened to Crystal defending Gilly. ‘I know he had a temper but I never f**kin’ saw him lose it big time with anyone else,’ she snapped. ‘You were the one that was always on the receiving end and don’t forget that you were the one he beat unconscious as well.’
‘No, he didn’t just lose it with me,’ said Crystal. The guilty expression had returned and Ruby knew there was something more.
‘Go on. Who?’
Crystal swallowed and without further encouragement she came out with it. ‘He killed a man.’
Ruby sprang back in her seat. ‘You’re f**kin’ joking!’
The words hit her like a thunderbolt. It wasn’t only the revelation; it was because it brought home to her that she too was a killer. But, despite prompting Crystal to confide in her, there was no way Ruby was going to share her own secret. Too many people knew already; her partner, Tiffany, and her cousins who had helped her to dispose of the body.
Ruby’s mind drifted back to the scene when Kyle, her childhood nemesis, had tried to take advantage of her. Then she thought of her own callous treatment of him and stifled a shudder of revulsion. Although she was ashamed of how far she had gone, she refused to feel guilty for the piece of shit that was Kyle Gallagher. He was another one who deserved everything that happened to him. And, at the end of the day, she had only paid him back for what he had done to her.
Not content with scarring her for life as a child, Kyle had then moved on to her business, a city centre brothel, where he’d collected protection money and manhandled her girls. But when he’d tried to manhandle her it had been a step too far. There was no way she was going to submit herself to him so he’d had to die.
‘What happened?’ she asked, quickly shifting the focus back to Crystal and blocking her memories but not before she had subconsciously run her finger over her facial scar.
‘He didn’t mean to,’ said Crystal.
Ruby held back her irritation again as Crystal went on to describe how Gilly had made it his mission to punish a client who had abused her. When they’d eventually tracked him down Gilly had driven him to a secluded place, intent on retribution. But the man had retaliated fiercely, forcing Gilly to take desperate action to stop him.
‘He did it for me,’ Crystal added. ‘He felt really bad about it afterwards. He never meant to kill him.’ She paused and took a deep breath before adding, ‘So we went back and buried the body. It was on the news about the man disappearing. But we just kept quiet. Gilly didn’t want anyone to know.’
‘So you kept it secret for him?’ asked Ruby. ‘As well as helping him to bury the f**kin’ body!’
‘Yes,’ Crystal whispered before finding renewed vigour as she continued. ‘But, like I said, he did it for me so it was the least I could do.’
Ruby shook her head but Crystal wasn’t finished yet. ‘I feel really bad about that too. Now that I’ve lost Gilly I realise what that man’s family must have felt like. I think I should tell the coppers everything.’
‘What, and take the rap for what Gilly did? Are you off your f**kin’ head? You keep schtum about the f**kin’ lot, Crystal.’ Ruby looked at her friend who had now bowed her head low and was sobbing again. ‘Are you listening?’
‘Yes,’ Crystal mumbled.
Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.
British doctor Lea Holm has come to New York to work in her chosen field of emergency medicine. She loves her new life in this exciting city and can’t wait to get started with her research project. The last thing she needs are distractions.
But then she meets famous actor Ricco Como in her building – a distraction if ever there was one. He’s gorgeous and sweet, and there’s an immediate connection between them. Lea tries to resist temptation, but when he comes to her for help dealing with his steadily worsening migraine she can’t turn away from his plight.
As Ricco’s health takes a turn for the worse, their lives become more and more entwined. But can their growing attraction withstand the strain of his ill health, and can he let Lea be more than just his doctor?
**This novella series contains detailed descriptions of long-term health conditions, cheating and a bereavement.**
The series is set in New York City and was written before COVID-19. It makes no reference to recent events.
Character Interview with Dr Lea Holm By Cecilia Fyre
We had the rare opportunity to catch up with Dr Lea Holm, the new girlfriend of actor Ricco Como. Lea is a doctor at Bellevue Hospital. She’s originally from London, England.
Hi Lea, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. I don’t think you’ve given many interviews like this so far?
No, this is my first, actually. I’m quite nervous.
No need, we won’t ask you anything incriminating. [Lea laughs nervously.] Now, do you want to tell us a little about yourself?
Let’s see. There isn’t much to tell. I recently moved to New York, from London. I work in an ER in the city, and as a researcher on a pain study. That’s why I came to Bellevue Hospital in the first place, to work on that study.
Is this your first time living in Manhattan?
I don’t actually live in Manhattan now, I moved to Queens. This city is insanely expensive, even worse than London! [laughs] My little flat is cute, but even out there it’s expensive. But yes, to answer your question. I’ve never lived in the States before.
So, let’s get to the juicy details, the questions our readers are eagerly awaiting: How did you and Ricco meet?
Well, when I first moved to New York I did live in Manhattan. I knew someone who knew someone who wanted a lodger for a few months. That guy lives in Ricco’s building, and I met Ricco in the hall one day.
Was it love at first sight?
Not really. We had coffee soon afterwards, though. So I guess we at least liked each other.
What is it like being with someone famous? Is it harder than dating normal people?
Oh yeah! [laughs again] It’s a lot harder, because so many people are interested in Ricco’s private life. So we kind of try to stay out of the spotlight, you know? But it’s also hard for other reasons. He works really long hours, and is often away for work. And I work long hours too. So we don’t always see each other as much as we’d like.
I bet that sucks especially. Being with a guy like Ricco and not being able to see him much?
I’m used to people who are passionate about their work. Doctors are like that as well, so we have that in common, which helps, I think. And when we do get to spend time together it’s really special. We try and make the most of it.
Okay, let’s do a few quick-fire questions to close off the interview. One word answers only!
Is Ricco a good kisser?
Who does the dishes, he or you?
The dishwasher! [she claps her hand to her mouth] Sorry that’s two words.
Are you messy or neat?
Ricco – neat. Me – not!
Who gets to choose the TV station, or the Netflix show to watch?
Me! Always, always me! [laughs]
And that’s the end of the interview. Thank you so much for taking the time for us, and all the best to you two!
Lea stepped out of the elevator and heard a weird, humming sound. No, not humming. Purring. Looking around her she spotted a black cat in the crevice under a nearby radiator.
“Hey, who’re you?” she murmured.
Big, green cat eyes stared at her out of the gloom, the jet-black body obscured in the shadows.
“Are you running away?” She crouched down and held out a hand. For a moment the cat looked like it was going to hiss at her. But then it slunk over, belly close to the marble floor. It was still purring.
Truth be told, Lea wasn’t really a cat person. She preferred dogs. Or maybe, in the tiny New York apartments, a cockatiel would be nice. Though this kitty was pretty cute. Its coat was fluffy, and it was a little on the chubby side. Well cared for, certainly. Of course, it would be, in this swanky Little Italy apartment building where the cheapest unit cost well over three million dollars. And whoever the cat belonged to was probably looking for it. So Lea braced herself and picked it up.
The elevator servicing the apartments on this floor was hidden away in a nook at the end of the hallway. As Lea stepped out from that little space now, the cat hanging relaxed in her arms, the door at the opposite end of the hallway opened. A man peered through it. “Carl? Man, if you slipped out, I’ll…sh*t…oh.”
He spotted Lea and opened the door wider. She felt foolish asking since he had pretty much confirmed it. “He yours?” She nodded at the cat in her arms, who had wriggled onto his back, head lolling, looking at her with those weird, slitted eyes.
“Yeah, he is,” the man said. “Little f**ker… sorry.”
She hid her smile as the color rose in his face. “Did he give you the slip?”
He nodded. Lea walked the length of the hallway, taking the opportunity to study him. Brown hair to just over his ears, tousled and standing up in places like he’d just woken up. His eyes were very blue, slightly slanted, and returning her gaze openly. Nice cheekbones that gave his features a certain finesse. He had boyish good looks that could only be helpful in his line of work. He wore a black T-shirt and grey sweatpants, and despite his handsome face, his smile was a little shy and very ordinary. Lea already knew who he was.
Despite what she might have said to Carmine about not caring for the famous people living in his building, now that she found herself face to face with one her heart jumped in her chest and her hands that were still clasping the cat began to sweat.
When she reached him, she held out her arms, uncertain of what to do. He smiled again, then disentangled the furry creature from his cozy spot.
“Thanks a lot.”
Lea returned his smile. “No problem.”
He wrestled for a moment with the cat, who was trying to crawl onto his shoulder. Once the cat had settled, looking very much at home, he extended his hand. “I’m Ricco.”
Lea was about to say, I know, but then decided against it. She shook his hand. “I’m Lea. Nice to meet you.”
Ricco gestured behind himself. “D’you wanna come in for a coffee? Thanks to you my afternoon won’t be wasted looking for this monster now.” He patted the animal, who purred.
Lea shook her head. She could’ve kicked herself. “I’m sorry, I can’t. My shift starts in less than an hour.” She glanced at her watch. She’d rushed out to run some errands she’d forgotten about all week and was running late now.
“Oh, okay… maybe another time.” He seemed disappointed, but Lea found that hard to believe. Why’d he care one way or another?
She banished the cynicism. “Definitely.”
Ricco was still looking at her, and the intensity of his gaze made Lea feel uneasy. He seemed to notice and lowered his eyes, retreating into his doorway. Lea turned to retrace her steps to the door furthest from his.
“See you later,” he said. Lea glanced around and he gave her a one-handed wave. She waved back and began to dig in her bag for the house keys. His door fell shut. Lea inserted her key into her own door, then stopped and glanced back down the corridor. Her heartbeat rather fast and her hands shook. She couldn’t understand why that should be so. She’d never cared a fig about celebrities.
Cecilia Fyre is the pen name of a romance author trying out something new.
She likes sunny, crisp autumn days. Cups of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top. The roaring of the sea. Laughing until your face hurts. The silence when you curl up with a good book.
Her stories are about people. Some of them are strange, some think they’re boring. They all have secrets, they’re all scared sometimes. Cecilia writes about life, about love. About how hard it is to do it right. Usually, there’s a happy ending, or at least there might be one, someday.
But life’s not all sunshine and roses, and that’s why Cecilia tells her stories.
The five novellas are: Book 1 – Heart and the City Book 2 – Unexpected Truth Book 3 – Been There Before Book 4 – Wish The Pain Away Book 5 – A Thousand Little Pieces
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway Link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Maddie Brown has spent most of her life putting everyone else’s needs above her own. But with her marriage crumbling and her nest scarily empty, she realises it may be time to spread her own wings and fly.
In with the… ex?
At a university reunion, Maddie meets Greg. He was the love of her life – and the one that got away. Some things never change, and neither of them can deny the feelings that linger between them. But there are so many reasons they can’t be together… not least the massive secret she has been keeping from him all these years.
Maddie is SO ready for a brand new start. But what do you do when the past just won’t stay in the past?
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A multi-generational story about life, love, romance and friendship. Maddie regrets her choices made twenty years ago. Can she be the person she is inside? Maddie is a relatable character, easy to empathise and like. Essentially this is a journey of belated self-discovery, it retains its grip on reality because Maddie doesn’t shy away from her responsibilities, but realises she deserves to do things for her too.
Extract from Take a Look at Me Now – Kendra Smith
They sat at separate tables. Maddie picked at her food and allowed her glass to be refilled several times, and eventually emerged from the fuggy hall, where the fog of drinks, steam and aromas of the four-course dinner came up against the sharp evening wind outside.
It was dusky, the horizon swallowing up the smear of crimson streaked across it, like a watercolour painting turning dark at the edges. Maddie looked around as she inhaled the air heavy with the scent of honeysuckle. She could see him standing at the bottom of the steps, his face glowing in the eerie white light of his mobile phone. Then he was taking a call, his shoulders hunched over. She pulled back and waited by the doorway, unsure of her place.
She swayed slightly on her heels, knowing she’d had too many drinks. Whatever the conversation was, it was heated. He was gesturing with his free hand towards the grass, as if conducting his own private, invisible orchestra. After a minute, he spun around and jammed his phone in his pocket. Then he saw her, walking slowly down the steps. She pulled her wrap around her shoulders tightly as she got to him.
‘I have to go,’ he muttered, and jerked his head to the left.
Like the last time, Greg? she wanted to ask. But instead she calmed the butterflies in her stomach, as the wave of emotion overwhelmed her and forced a smile. Theirs was a story from the past.
They used to miss lectures on a Friday as they both only had one – they’d stay in bed most of the day. He’d wander around her tiny bedsit in not much more than a towel tied around his waist after a scalding-hot shower. In fact, she realised with a shudder, that’s what she missed the most: the easy intimacy. He used to wash her hair sometimes, with gentle hands on her scalp, circling the back of her neck with his strong thumbs. He’d sit her down in front of the basin and gently wet it all, pour over shampoo then put on honey-scented conditioner and comb it through.
It was wonderful and so relaxing. Sometimes it had led to something more… but normally he’d wrap her hair in a towel and they’d sit, watching her tiny TV, and she’d feel like the luckiest girl in the world. And now, here he was, in a dinner jacket and black tie, standing right next to her. Stony-faced. She bit her lip, tasted the blood, so she could focus on the present.
And with that he walked briskly away.
She watched him. Watched as he strode across the concrete courtyard, heels clicking, like he did all those years ago. Perhaps she’d been stupid to come, to open up all those old wounds again. She folded her arms across her chest and shivered.
‘Maddie!’ It was Ellie, weaving her way towards her in purple slingbacks, clipping on the hard surface. ‘There you are! C’mon, we’re all going to the Student Union bar for Snakebites! Maddie, c’mon!’ Ellie had stopped by one of the pillars and was fiddling with her shoes.
‘Looks like you need some help with your footwear!’ She took Ellie by the arm as they made their – slightly wobbly – way to the bar.
As she licked the traces of blood from her lips, she was thankful that at least it would take her mind off the nagging question that was building up in her mind.
Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.
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.
The first novel in an explosive new series inspired by Robert Ludlum’s Bourne universe, The Treadstone Resurrection introduces an unforgettable hero and the shadowy world that forged him…
Treadstone made Jason Bourne an unstoppable force, but he’s not the only one.
Operation Treadstone has nearly ruined Adam Hayes. The top-secret CIA Black Ops program trained him to be an all but invincible assassin, but it also cost him his family and any chance at a normal life. Which is why he was determined to get out. Working as a carpenter in rural Washington state, Adam thinks he has left Treadstone in the past, until he receives a mysterious email from a former colleague, and soon after is attacked by an unknown hit team at his job site.
Adam must regain the skills that Treadstone taught him–lightning reflexes and a cold conscience–in order to discover who the would-be killers are and why they have come after him now. Are his pursuers enemies from a long-ago mission? Rival intelligence agents? Or, perhaps, forces inside Treadstone? His search will unearth secrets in the highest levels of government and pull him back into the shadowy world he worked so hard to forget.
Coinciding with the much-anticipated return of the Treadstone series – released by Amazon in January 2020 in the UK – and with the 40th anniversary of the first Bourne book, The Treadstone Resurrection is the latest instalment of the franchise. Picking up the baton from Robert Ludlum, Joshua Hood is an author and former Airborne Division fighter, whose real-world experience and combat training makes him the perfect writer for The Treadstone Resurrection.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
If adrenaline-pumping, dark political, techno-thrillers are your thing, and they are certainly mine, this one is for you. Set firmly within the ‘Treadstone’ ethos, created by Robert Ludlum, with his iconic Jason Bourne character. Joshua Hood’s story has new characters, twenty-first-century issues, but the same addictive, resonating characters and plot. From the fast-paced, poignant beginning, you know you’re hooked. The short, snappy chapters draw you in, wanting to know ‘what next?’, ‘who’s doing this?’ ‘Will the enigmatic Adam Hayes, a former Treadstone operative survive?’
I like the topicality of the storyline, the authentic characters and the vast array of technology and evil antagonists. It’s dark, gory and horrific. An epic battle of good versus evil. Although classic, in its themes and intensity, the characters, and scenarios are twenty-first-century creations. It gives them an edge. Makes you believe, in the main protagonist and empathise with him. The emotional side is there too. Adam has suffered. He has personal demons, which emphasise his humanity, a stark contrast against the relentless evil he faces.
Something for everyone, here, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, someone who likes to see good and evil battle it out, or a lover of clever twisty plots, this book delivers it all.
Extract From The Treadstone Resurrection – Joshua Hood.
LA CONNER, WASHINGTON
Adam Hayes was lying in the center of the bed when the nightmare came. The tremor started at the edge of his lips, a ripple that twisted into a feral snarl. He started to sweat, hands tearing at the sheets, eyes pinballing behind closed lids, mind trapped in the horrors of the past.
He waited in the shadows, eyes closed, ears straining for the sound of his approaching prey. Kill them all— hat was the order. He was just the instrument— man conditioned to kill without hesitation. His hand closed around the hilt of the knife at the small of his back. The metal hilt felt cold through the latex gloves. The blade came free with the hiss of steel on leather and Hayes opened his eyes; the sentry’s face was green in the night vision.
Now, the voice told him, and he struck.
Hayes’s hand snaked under the pillow and his fingers closed around the reassuring steel of the Springfield 9‑millimeter EMP. He rolled off the bed and dropped into a crouch, the hardwood cold as a corpse on his bare knees. Muscle memory had taken over, and his hands worked independently of thought. The snap of the pistol onto the target and the flick of the thumb disengaging the safety came unbidden.
It was only when his index finger curled around the trigger, compressing the spring until all it would take was a whisper of pressure for the gun to fire, that Hayes became conscious of the moment.
Then the nightmare evaporated.
Hayes blinked the world back into focus, his eyes falling to the outstretched pistol, sights centered on the shirt hanging on the back of the door. Jesus Christ.
He let go of the trigger and snicked the safety into place. The realization that he’d come within a hairsbreadth of sending a 9‑millimeter hollow-point through the door made him sick to his stomach.
It was 5:05 in the morning and the nightmares were getting worse.
When he trusted his legs to hold him, Hayes grunted to his feet, placed the pistol on the bedside table, and padded across the hardwood to the bathroom. He palmed the wall switch and the overhead lights flashed to life, revealing the mass of scars that crisscrossed his bare torso like lines on a topographic map.
He stopped at the sink, plucked the orange pill bottle from the open medicine cabinet, and twisted the cap free. He shook a dose into his hand. The oblong pill in his callused palm reminded him of the last appointment with the shrink in Tacoma.
“What about the nightmares?” she asked, over the scratch of her pen across the paper.
“Haven’t had one in months.”
“Adam, you are making wonderful progress,” she said, tearing the sheet from the prescription pad, “but.”
There’s always a but.
“But there will be setbacks.”
He felt the anger stir in his gut, like a wolf waking in its den. Three nightmares in one week wasn’t a setback; it was a fucking meltdown. He was pissed. Mad that he’d listened to her— et himself believe that he’d made progress.
That he could be normal.
“No,” he said aloud. “That’s not who I am anymore.”
He took a breath, placed the pill in his mouth, and gently closed the door. He took a drink of water from the sink, and when Hayes looked up, his eyes alighted on the sheet of construction paper taped to the glass. The stick-figure family holding hands beneath a lemon-yellow sun.
Hayes brushed his finger over the “I love my Daddy” scrawled in crayon, a sad smile stretching across his face.
In the shower, he twisted the cold-water knob all the way to the left and ducked under the showerhead. The water came out of the pipe ice- old and hit his flesh with the sting of a bullwhip. His mind recoiled, muscles tensed like hawsers beneath his skin, forcing the air from his lungs, but Hayes stood fast and waited for the question that had greeted him every morning for the past eighteen months.
How did I get here?
The first time Hayes heard about Treadstone, he was in Afghanistan. Three months into a six-month tour and he’d already lost two men. That’s when things started to go sideways. Lines that had been black and white started looking gray. Hayes wasn’t sleeping, but he had it under control— or that’s what he told himself.
Robert Ludlum (1927 – 2001) was the author of twenty-seven novels, each one a New York Times bestseller. There are more than 225 million of his books in print, and they have been translated into 32 languages in 50 countries. Among his best-sellers were The Scarlatti Inheritance (1971), The Osterman Weekend (1972), The Matarese Circle (1979). He is most famous for the Jason Bourne series – The Bourne Identity (1980), The Bourne Supremacy (1986) and The Bourne Ultimatum (1990). The series was adapted for TV in 1988, for a film featuring Matt Damon in the lead role in 2002, and for a brand-new TV production from the writer behind Heroes and Chicago Hope in January 2020.
Joshua Hood is the author of Warning Order and Clear by Fire. He graduated from the University of Memphis before joining the military and spending five years in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was a team leader in the 3-504 Parachute Infantry Regiment in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From 2007 to 2008, Hood served as a squad leader with the 1-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan for which he was decorated for valour in Operation Furious Pursuit. On his return to civilian life, he became a sniper team leader on a full-time SWAT team in Memphis, where he was awarded the lifesaving medal. Currently, he works as the Director of Veteran Outreach for the American Warrior Initiative.
When the fate of the world rests on your shoulders, how do you choose between what you ought to do and the only thing you really want?
Leonie finally knows who she is. But now she needs to decide who she is going to be. Her choice will affect not just her family, not just those she knows, but tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of people that she doesn’t. And every path that’s open to her will put Perry under the pressures that caused his breakdown before. How can she do what she must and still protect Perry?
Perry desperately wants to make things easier for Leonie. Somehow he has to find the strength to face the things that all but destroyed him in the past. But every way he turns, some aspect of his past lies waiting to pounce – even during his happiest moments. And he can never forget that Leonie’s life is in danger from someone, somewhere.
Gabriel has managed to negotiate peace, at least in theory. Now he must put that into practice and reunite Leonie with the family she never knew she had. Then disaster strikes right in the middle of his own sanctuary. Can he still protect those he loves, or has he been harbouring a villain the whole time?
Extract: Taken from the second chapter, Leonie and Perry are staying at Castle Tennant. This is the morning after Leonie has had a nightmare and destroyed the Shield protecting the Castle.
Perry grinned at me while we were eating. “I made you a promise yesterday,” he said. “Fancy going swimming after breakfast?”
I nodded eagerly. Swimming always made me feel better no matter what was going on. As soon as I’d finished eating, I grabbed my costume – and Perry – and hurried down to the pool. I was ready first so I slid into the empty, still waters, closing my eyes and revelling in the waves lapping against my skin. I took a deep breath, ducked under the surface and swam as far as I could underwater, enjoying the sensation of being totally encompassed by it. When I came up for air, Perry was in the water too, leaning back against one side of the pool.
He smiled at me. “Are you sure you’re not really a fish?” he asked.
I splashed him and he came after me, in a whirlwind of water, splashes and laughter until he caught me.
We were still in the pool, swimming laps, when Lilyrose and Brin came to find us.
Brin squatted down by the edge of the pool and I looked up at him.
“I am sorry about last night,” I told him.
He smiled. “I told you, don’t worry about it. I’ve managed to persuade Uncle Neville to fork out for a full set of new Shields and a few other goodies, so I’m very happy about it all.”
“Typical Brin,” Perry called. “Always manages to come out on top.”
Brin swivelled on his toes to look at Perry. “Thought you might like to come over to the practice ground again,” he said. “Best not to be caught off guard.”
But Brin was off guard, balanced there on his toes. I reached for just a little power and pushed. He toppled into the pool, arms and legs flailing frantically. He came up spluttering, launching himself at me. “You little…”
I giggled and dived straight under him, beneath his legs, before surfacing next to Perry, who was shaking with laughter. “Best not to be caught off guard, Brin,” he called.
Brin turned, a big smile spread across his face. “Very good,” he conceded. “Now did you want to come over to the practice ground or not?”
Perry looked back and forth between me and Brin, and I could feel he was uncertain. Knowing we could be in danger had made him eager to brush up on his defensive skills but at the same time, he didn’t really want to leave me.
“You go,” I told him. “I just want to swim for a bit longer and then I’ll come and find you.”
He smiled in relief at the decision being made for him, kissed me, and then he and Brin got out of the pool to dry and dress. I swam up and down the pool for a while, revelling in the rhythm of my strokes and the lap of the water against my body. It helped me get my thoughts in order.
What if the ethical choice has devastating consequences for others?
How can anyone know the right thing to do?
Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.
Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?
The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember? If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.
What if your secrets are so dangerous they could destroy the one you love? Is honesty always the best policy?
Leonie may have run away but Prospero will find her. He loves her and he wants a future with her by his side whatever the consequences. Only when he does find her, he ought to tell her who he really is, outside the monastery. That’ll make her run again. Dare he risk it? But if he doesn’t tell her, someone else may…
Marriage to Prospero is what Leonie wants most and the one thing she knows she can’t have. If he found out what she was really like, what she’d been, what she’d done, he’d despise her and she couldn’t bear that. Better to leave now than live a lie – but it’s harder than she expected. If only…
Gabriel is starting to discover the secrets inherent in Leonie, secrets that not even she knows, secrets that will tear the world apart. And the secrets he is keeping are tearing him apart. How can sacrificing those he loves possibly achieve peace when everything he discovers risks the death of millions?
A girl. A monk. An unthinkable sacrifice. When the choice is between love and life, how can anyone decide?
In a post-apocalyptic future, a girl and a monk, both with extraordinary mental powers, have compelling reasons not to fall in love. But their choices will have consequences for the rest of the world.
After the troubles of his youth, Brother Prospero has found comfort and fulfilment in the monastery. Then he discovers something that forces him to reconsider his whole vocation. How can it possibly be right to leave a life of worship and service for human desire? And if he does leave, will the pressures from his past destroy him?
Orphaned and mistreated, Leonie has found sanctuary and safety at the Abbey. When she comes into contact with Prospero everything spirals out of her control. Everyone she’s ever loved has died. She can’t do that to him. But how can she walk away from the first place she’s truly belonged?
Abbot Gabriel is faced with an impossible choice. He can do nothing and watch the world descend into war. Or he can manipulate events and ensure peace – at the cost of two lives that he is responsible for. Is he strong enough to sacrifice those he loves?
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Rachel J Bonner is the author of the compelling and enthralling four book Choices and Consequences series. The first book in the series, Strand of Faith, was published in November 2018. Book 2, Thread of Hope, released on 2nd May 2019, followed by Weave of Love on 24th October, and Cloth of Grace at the end of February 2020.
Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in paranormal romance. Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun. When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books or shooting things with her local archery club. Shooting targets only, honest. Nothing to worry about.
She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary. It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.
You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters on her website.