Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Percival Hatton, has been content to follow the path laid out for her. Charlotte has an understanding with Captain Nicolas Paget – every inch the gentleman – who she expects someday to marry. But then she meets Josiah Martyn and everything changes…
A driven and ambitious Cornish mining engineer, and the complete opposite to Captain Nicholas, Josiah has come to London to help build the first tunnel under the river Thames. When unpredictable events occur at the inauguration of the project, Josiah and Charlotte are suddenly thrown into an unexpected intimacy.
But not everyone
is happy with Charlotte and Josiah growing closer. As friends turn to foes,
will they be able to rewrite the stars and find their happy ever after,
although all odds seem to be stacked against them…?
I received a copy of this book from the author and Corvus Books in return for an honest review.
Set in 1825, this romantic family saga explores the engineering feat of building the first underwater tunnel in London, by Brunel. The vision of this late Regency event comes across well in this story, but so does the human cost, of such a dangerous undertaking.
Charlotte is the Rector’s daughter, who since her mother’s untimely death has fulfilled the parish duties expected of a Rector’s wife. She is compassionate, clever and courageous, and does what she can to help the parish’s poor and unfortunate. The Rector is judgemental about his poorer parishioners. He is the antithesis of his daughter and prepared to put his material needs above his pastoral duties.
Charlotte meets Josiah, an engineer working for Brunel on the tunnel when he averts a near-tragic accident for her. The attraction although immediate and powerful builds through friendship when they meet on many occasions, through Charlotte’s parish duties and mutual acquaintances. Their romance appears ill-fated, when her father’s desire to maintain his reputation overrides the needs and wishes of his daughter, leading to an angst-ridden emotional climax to this story.
The historical background is well researched and written in a vivid real-time way that allows the reader to experience some of the events of the era. The characters are complex. Many are disagreeable but add to the story. All act in a way that fits with this exciting historical period. The social class divide is marked, but the evidence of change that the future Victorian era witnessed is seen here.
An absorbing plot, with vividly written characters, historical events, and a believable but utterly romantic love story, makes this the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s afternoon.
Jean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.
Spend a white Christmas on Summer Island, where the fires are warm
and the romance is hotter
Lila Sloan wonders why she ever thought house-sitting for her
sister Meg on the remote Summer Island was a good idea. And to make matters
worse, local real estate developer Beck Grainger is trying to cut down the
beautiful trees that line the property. Lila can’t let this happen; Meg will
never forgive her.
Beck can understand Lila’s anger—sort of. The trees are actually
on the neighboring property, and the land was zoned for development months ago,
so his plans were no secret. But he dislikes being at odds with his friend’s
sister, especially because Lila is appealing in every way: loyal, quick-witted
and completely stunning.
Lila hates that she’s so attracted to Beck, who seems like a
genuinely good man, despite his tree-murdering tendencies. And their chemistry
is off the charts. She just wishes he’d let this development go. As Summer
Island counts down to a snowy Christmas, Lila and Beck will have to strike a
compromise that seems impossible for them both—or risk losing the best thing
either of them has ever had.
I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second in the Summer Island series, it’s close to Christmas and it’s snowing, the idyllic setting for this lovely feel-good romance. Lila is on Summer Island to help her older sister Meg, who is taking time out with her new boyfriend. Lila is hurting, after a bad experience at work, which forces her to rethink her career. Helping her sister gives her the solitude she needs until someone disturbs it. Forcing Lila into a confrontation she neither needs or feels capable of,but she has to protect her sister’s business and their childhood memories.
Lila and Beck feel the heat, despite the snow and their difference of opinion. Their relationship is full of conflict, as they battle over the wood, their unwanted feelings, emotional angst and the other person in their relationship. It is through compromise, friendship and understanding of each other’s emotional damage, that finally makes them see that they may have a future.
This reads well as a standalone story, but the cast of characters are lovely, and I would like to read the first one and those that follow.
Emotional romance, compassionate friendships and a lovely snowy setting make this a perfect holiday romantic read.
THE GIVING HEART by Toni Blake – Excerpt
Five long, cold
minutes later a tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a winter coat with blue
jeans and some weird, worn, leathery sort of cowboy hat on his head came
walking down from the direction of West Bluff. Despite herself, and for the
first time ever in her life, she found herself envying work boots like the ones
he had on because they appeared so sturdy and dry. She braced herself for a
When she looked up
at him, two things struck her simultaneously. First, he was ridiculously
handsome—with dark hair peeking out from beneath that dumb hat, and dark
stubble on his chiseled jaw to match. And second, his
warm brown eyes wore that same confused, cautious look as the man on the
bulldozer’s as he said, “I’m Beck Grainger. And…there seems to be some sort of
Lila drew back. This
was Beck Grainger? Who Meg had spoken of so fondly? And even Suzanne, too,
during their short visit yesterday, had mentioned him as a friend. Meg had told
her he’d been interested in dating Suzanne and she’d declined, but they both
still thought he was a great guy.
“Well, I’m Lila
Sloan,” she said. “And yes, there’s a problem. I’m not letting you destroy
Meg’s property value like this.”
dark eyebrows shot up beneath his leathery brim. “You’re Meg’s sister?”
She gave a terse,
The handsome man
sighed, shifting his weight from one work boot to the other. “Look, no one is
trying to destroy anyone’s property value. And I assumed Meg knew about this.
It’s not a secret. It was brought publicly before the town council and zoned
for residential use back in the spring.”
Ugh. None of this
was good news. But Lila was certain Meg didn’t know. Her sister had been
dealing with a lot this past year and perhaps hadn’t been paying attention to
island business. They’d actually discussed these very woods over the
Thanksgiving table last week, recalling how they’d played here as children when
their grandmother was still alive and running the place. Meg said that a couple
of years ago she’d crossed the stream to plant some shade-loving trillium and blue
cranesbill among the trees, and that the small blooms had added color visible
from the patio each of the last two summers. Meg loved and valued these trees.
And Lila brimmed with anger that no one had made Meg aware of this—but that was
neither here nor there. “I can assure you she doesn’t know.”
The handsome man’s
brow narrowed skeptically. “Well, if it’s a problem for her, why didn’t she
just pick up the phone and call me?”
“Because she’s away
right now—traveling. And even if she were here, she wouldn’t have known you
were the person to call. And maybe she would have done something
sensible—because Meg is definitely sensible—like contact someone on the town
council. But I, being less sensible and more rash, took a more direct approach.
Meg left me in charge of the inn while she’s away—and I can’t let you do this.
I just can’t.”
The tilt of Beck
Grainger’s handsome head told her he was going to try reasoning with her. “You
know, it’s not gonna be that bad. Luxury homes. With big yards. They’ll fit into
the landscape.” He even ended the sentence with a wink. Was he serious? Given
what Lila had been through recently, he was definitely barking up the wrong
tree with an elitist suggestion that rich people made better neighbors.
“I don’t care
what you’re building—you’re doing it at the expense of my sister’s inn. People
stay here because of the ambiance and atmosphere. They stay here to listen to
crickets in the trees and see fireflies blinking in the woods. We played in
these trees as kids. They’ve been growing here since…well, since before Summer
Island was even Summer Island. I can’t let you tear them down.”
USA Today bestselling author Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Since then, she has written over twenty contemporary romance novels. Her books have received the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, her work has been excerpted in Cosmopolitan, and she has been nominated for a RITA Award. Toni lives with her husband in Northern Kentucky.
When you’re working undercover the smallest mistake can cost you your life.
Detective Constable Bailey Morgan has been out of the undercover game since her last job went horribly wrong, leaving her with scars inside and out. When her colleague Alice is found dead whilst working deep cover in a women’s prison, Bailey steps in to replace her.
Working alone, Bailey embarks on a dangerous journey through the murky underbelly of the prison and soon discovers that Alice’s death was part of a spate of brutal murders.
Surrounded by prison officers, criminals and lowlifes, the slightest mistake could cost Bailey her life. Illicit drug trafficking, prison gangs and corruption are just some of the things she’s up against… and behind it, all lurks a sinister and terrifying secret that will truly test her survival instincts.
Is ‘Jailbird’ inspired by a particular event? Can you share your inspirations for this story?
‘Jailbird’ isn’t inspired by any particular event. It’s more like it emerged out of a collision between various interests and preoccupations of mine.
I’d been wanting to write a women’s prison thriller for a while because I’ve always enjoyed prison-themed books, films and TV shows. I tried several different variations on the story but none of them felt quite right until I got to the scenario of a cop going undercover in a prison. And that tapped straight into a preoccupation I’ve always had with how far people put up facades to fool others for good motives or bad, and how far you can see the cracks in those facades if you look closely enough. The idea of an undercover cop, having to conceal her identity in order to fight crime, takes this to the extreme, because if people see through her facade she’s a dead woman!
Why are prisons popular settings for crime fiction and thrillers?
I think prisons make for good crime thriller material because they’re a closed environment with an inbuilt element of criminality which provides the potential for lots of intrigue and conflict. The atmosphere of a prison lends itself well to this genre because you’ve got that claustrophobia from hundreds of people being locked in with each other against their will, and the constant simmering tension which arises as a result.
I love reading books set in prisons and I don’t think there are enough of them which is one reason why I wanted to write ‘Jailbird’, to make my own contribution to this crime sub-genre.
What makes your story unique, in such a popular genre?
Well, they say no story is truly unique, don’t they? So I guess it’s the way you tell it that makes it special…
I think good well-defined characters play a very important part in making a story stand out. The main character of ‘Jailbird’ is Bailey Morgan, the policewoman who goes undercover in the prison. I’ve tried to make her as three-dimensional as possible – yes she’s tough and resourceful, with an appetite for danger, but she also has a vulnerable side which is explained by a backstory that actually ends up feeding into the very risks she’s facing on a daily basis as an undercover cop in a prison.
As for the plot itself, there have been stories before about cops going undercover in prison, but I think the female cop/female prison angle makes ‘Jailbird’ different from what I’ve encountered in the genre so far. Plus the fact that it’s set in the UK perhaps makes it a little more unusual.
There are also other elements to the story that makes ‘Jailbird’ unique, which you discover towards the denouement, but of course, I’m not going to give that away here. You’ll have to read it to the end to find out!
There is a varied cast of characters in your novel, how did you make them realistic and relatable?
One thing I did when I was writing ‘Jailbird’ was to create questionnaires for all of the main characters which ran the gamut from things like, ‘where does she live?’, ‘what’s her height?’, ‘what’s her favourite colour?’, ‘what’s her favourite song?’ etc, right through to deeper things like ‘what was her first experience of death?’ and so on. For the most part, the answers to these questions didn’t make it into the actual book. But when you force yourself to think through the answers to these questions for each character, they really start to become alive and much more three-dimensional. And once that happens their motivations for doing what they’re doing become a lot clearer.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I love crime and thriller books obviously – recently I’ve been enjoying novels by Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Heather Burnside, Gillian Flynn, Don Winslow and Martina Cole amongst others. Reading other people’s novels is a great way to understand some of the techniques these very talented writers use in order to generate suspense and create great characters.
I also do like horror fiction – authors like Adam Nevill, James Herbert and C.J. Tudor. From a personal writing perspective I find horror complements crime quite well and in fact, there can often be a cross-over.
I read quite a bit of non-fiction as well. True crime, current affairs, popular psychology. Some of it is research on what I’m writing, some of it I read just because it interests me!
What are you currently writing?
I am currently working on the follow-up novel to ‘Jailbird’. After all, Bailey Morgan is still around and she’s not going to be able to put up with normal life for very long before she’ll be wanting to go undercover again…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
If you enjoy prison drama, suspense and menace, Jailbird is an exciting new story to explore.
It contains everything you would expect in a novel of this type, a courageous, challenged protagonist, who is only there to finish a job, her friend was unable to, after her violent death. A corrupt prison ethos, where it is debatable who is in charge, and a culture of abuse, drugs and violence.
This story contains well-written, but graphic descriptions of the violence, and so this is for a mature adult audience. There is a varied cast of characters, most are complex and realistically flawed. A setting like a prison demands that the characters are exceptional, and for the most part they are. The plot has twists, that keep you guessing, and the build-up of suspense is well done.
Gritty, graphic and powerful, this is a story that makes you think.
Extract from Chapter 1 – Jailbird – Caro Savage
The clank sounded out of place. Alice Jenkins stopped pushing the laundry trolley and lifted her head. She tossed her long reddish-blonde hair out of her face. ‘Hey, who’s there?’ She was answered only by the repetitive groaning of the huge industrial washing machines and dryers which lined both sides of the prison laundry. She peered uncertainly into the shadows beyond the giant wire racks, which held folded piles of freshly laundered bedding and towels. Down here in the basement there were no windows and the overhead strip lighting flickered with a sickly insipid yellow which failed to illuminate the room properly.
Alice had only started her job in the laundry two days before. Normally there were other inmates working in here, but this afternoon she was all alone. That was because she’d volunteered to do some overtime, explaining to the laundry supervisor that she wanted to earn a little extra cash for her canteen account.
She hadn’t been in prison for very long. Just a few weeks. She’d been sent down for benefit fraud. Not a major crime but enough to land her inside for a year and three months. But she seemed to be getting the hang of things. Like managing to get this job in the laundry.
There was still plenty of stuff that she was unfamiliar with though, so she wasn’t totally relaxed by any means. In fact, she’d found that this place could suddenly put you on edge when you were least expecting it. Like now for example.
She glanced around nervously.
‘Hey stop messing about!’ she said.
Maybe some of the other inmates – her laundry colleagues – were playing a practical joke on her. She hoped so. Because if it wasn’t them then maybe it was one of the dangerous looking cliques she’d seen around the prison. Maybe they’d taken a dislike to her for some reason. Maybe they had it in for her.
‘Haha. Try and creep up on Ally. Yeah, that’s hilarious. You can come out now.’ She tried to sound breezy but her nerves betrayed her, her voice instead coming out reedy and uneven.
There was no answer. Just the incessant rumbling of the machinery.
Her knuckles turned white as she tightened her grip on the handle of the trolley and squinted into the dim recesses of the cavernous laundry. A burst of excess steam hissed from a nearby pipe. She jumped and gasped, her heart thumping in her chest.
Her mind raced to think what had made the clanking sound. It might be a rat.
The prison did have a rodent problem. Or maybe she was just spooking herself out unnecessarily.
‘You silly girl,’ she muttered, shaking her head and pulling herself upright.
She recommenced pushing the trolley, awkwardly manoeuvring its bulky weight towards one of the empty washing machines at the end of the room.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a shadow pass behind one of the sheets that were hanging up, waiting to be folded and placed on the wire racks.
She let go of the trolley and spun around to look. Was there someone there? She could have sworn she was the only one in here.
No. It was surely just a ripple in the material caused by convection in the warm air currents generated by the dryers. She turned back to the trolley, taking hold of the handle once again.
But then in the darkness beyond the racking, just behind the dryers, something caught her eye.
A brief sparkle.
A shiny surface which captured the few photons bouncing around behind the stacks of machinery and reflected them back to her…
She stopped again, momentarily entranced by it as it twinkled in the shadows like a lone star aglow in the distant black depths of deep space. For a brief moment, she forgot her apprehension as she tried to make sense of it floating there in the shadows like the needle of a compass… turning… pointing in her direction…
Then a depth charge of cold fear detonated in her gut as she realised what it was.
Her heart began to hammer inside her chest. Her hands fell away from the handle of the trolley.
‘Oh fuck,’ she whispered. They’d come to kill her.
They’d decided to come for her when she was all alone. She cursed her stupidity for making the mistake of being down here by herself.
Somewhere along the line, she’d messed up and now she was going to pay for it with her life.
She felt a heavy nausea rise up inside her, the fear of impending death.
Slowly, she edged backwards around the trolley to put it between herself and whoever was behind the dryers. She again squinted to try and see more.
In the shadows, silence. A flicker of movement in the darkness. A shadow within a shadow. It was big. It was no rat. That was for sure. It was a person.
She gulped. Her mouth was dry. She glanced towards the doorway. It was at the far end of the laundry. That distant metal door had never looked more appealing. Nor had it ever seemed further away. She glanced back at the row of dryers.
Tensing, she took a deep breath… and bolted.
Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing.
Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and
Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the Duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.
The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further
escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for
In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The rich historical detail of France, at the beginning of the eighteenth-century, is brought to life, with the intrigues, passions and sacrifices of the five court mistresses, in the house of the Duc Hugo d’Amboise. All the women of varying ages and backgrounds have been drawn into the Duc’s household, his Duchess tolerates their presence until she realises, her husband is falling in love with the youngest, Letitia. Threatened and heartbroken she uses the rivalry and secrets, of her uneasy housemates to remain the household’s dominant female.
I was enthralled from the first pages, this story is a compelling read. The female characters are flawed and beautifully written, all victims of circumstances, they fall into an uneasy alliance, to survive, and make their lives, and that of their children bearable. The society they create is akin to the animal kingdom, one dominant male, a hierarchy of females, that is constantly under pressure. The reality this story portrays is shocking and hard to countenance in the 21st century. In eighteenth-century France, they were considered lucky by most, but the reality is less palatable.
The abuse of status and power is also explored, with the vulnerable at the mercy of the people who should be protecting not abusing them. Status is the lynchpin of eighteenth-century French society, and to maintain it, many were prepared to sacrifice, their beliefs, morality and family.
The plot is constantly twisting as more secrets are revealed and used by the desperate Duchess to maintain her status. Underneath, the courtly manner is something wild and dangerous. Innocents have to become streetwise to survive. All the characters are believable and fascinating, some are easy to empathise and like. The ending is shocking, but it is inevitable the story will not end well for all.
A dramatic and often poignant story, that shows the depths humanity will sink to survive. The ultimate bloody end of this society is not surprising.
Kate Murdoch is the
author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and
internationally before turning her hand to writing.
fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US
Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press, December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.
Kate was awarded a
KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel, The Glasshouse.
Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Angie Martinelli…
Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of
a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in
Determined not to let life
weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a
teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s
convinced her luck is about to change.
But Nick has secrets of his own…
and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but
wonder if she’ll ever find love.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A second chance romance with the lovely festive backdrop of New England. Angie never thought she go back east, but when her life implodes thanks to her cheating ex, she has little choice. Moving in with mum and dad is not ideal, not to mention overcrowded, so she needs a plan.Nick’s life is far from easy, but a serendipitous meeting with Angie, maybe just what he needs, but is it really?
This is a story of family and friendships, secrets and lies, with a small town ethos. The romance is gentle and slow, both are hurting, and they have many conflicts to overcome. Thankfully, this is a heartwarming festive read and so the ending is hopeful and romantic.
The perfect escapist read, full of family drama, interference and love, good friends, and a chance to start again for Angie and Nick.
Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan
always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult
life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into
her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.
Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When
she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.
She currently resides in Southern New England with her family.
Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter,
and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
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No longer content to
just be Snappigram sensations, folk hop singers Zeke and Angelique are ready to
move up from coffee house performances to the big stage. With songs like “Uh
Huh, Future Baby Mama” and “Don’t Worry About the Bills, Little Missus” there’s
pretty much no way they can fail.
But if their musical career takes off, will it leave their love behind?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
This book fits its title perfectly, Angelique and Zeke are irritating and credible stereotypes of some of today’s celebrity media stars. The idea for this story is good, and it is amusing and satirical. However, the two main characters and their entourage are difficult to empathise and connect with. The reality doesn’t live up to the expectation, rather like Angelique and Zeke.
If you embrace the current obsession with celebrity and publicising life for all to see, this is a fun read. However, if you find it all shallow and not worth your time, this story is likely to reinforce your perceptions.
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books ranging from serious women’s fiction to romantic comedies, domestic thrillers, humour, and cozy mysteries. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The rape scene in this story is brutal, the violation and loss of control implicit in every word. This description is harrowing. Given the inspiration for this story, the attack is realistic and sets the scene for what follows. This an adult story. One that will upset most people, but it doesn’t detract from it, or the message it is sending.
Eve’s attack and subsequent action is the main storyline, but running alongside her need for retribution is the need for closure to heal, and the need to stop this happening to anyone else. Eve is complex, but she is easy to empathise. You want her to have justice.
Including the friend and lodger characters, may seem incidental to the story, but they are important. Eve’s reaction to them shows how emotionally scarred and traumatised she is, and why she does what she does. They are an important focus for her mental state.
The plot is chilling and suspenseful, and whether or not you agree with the outcome, or what happens before, the ending is well thought out and believable. A fusion of the psychological thriller and crime genres, with authentic emotion and a menacing antagonist, and an ending that leaves you with a moral dilemma. Perfect.
Author Interview – Gemma Rogers – Stalker
What are the inspirations behind your book – Stalker? Is it a standalone or part of a series?
The inspiration for Stalker came from an indecent assault that happened to me back in 2001. I found writing about it extremely cathartic. In terms of the story, I wanted to explore the feelings that can be left behind as a result of such a traumatic event. How far someone would go for justice? It’s a standalone novel that follows Eve from the incident to her resolution.
How did you create your main protagonist Eve? Is she based on someone you know, an imaginative creation, or a little of both?
Eve isn’t based on anyone I know, she’s a creation, although very much a part of me. How she feels after her attack, mirrors how I felt almost twenty years ago. She’s a complex character, struggling to understand the emotions she’s forced to deal with; the anger, self-loathing and guilt.
How do you make your characters believable?
I people watch and try to absorb as much as I can when I’m out and about. It’s great to watch and see how people react in certain situations. I also draw from my own experiences too, use those to try and flesh my characters out, make them three dimensional. I hope I’ve managed that with Stalker.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
For me, generally, it’s the plot. I’ll come up with an idea first and it will grow from there. I’m not sure why the idea will plant itself and get bigger until I can’t think of anything else. That’s when I know it’s a good one. However, with Stalker, the setting was equally as important. Where the assault takes place in the novel, is where I grew up. Close to where it actually happened.
What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?
I’ve always written, from a very young age. I’d create stories with my brother, and turn them into little illustrated books, the pages tied together with string. I wrote some fan fiction in my teens but it’s only the past five years I’ve pushed myself to write a book, and actually finish it! I like this genre very much, I’m a lover of horror films and books, dark thrillers seemed right for me. I think the genre chose me rather than the other way around.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I mostly read thrillers; psychological, gritty thrillers, the darker the better. I fell in love with The Birdman by Mo Hayder and was hooked from there. My favourite authors are Alex Marwood, John Marrs, Mark Edwards, and CJ Tudor. However, when I fancy something a bit lighter I always head to Jane Fallon. I’m a massive fan of her writing.
What are you currently writing?
I’m currently in the process of writing Book 3 which I believe will be out at some point in 2020, so that is keeping me busy. Book 2 is due for release in January, so not long to wait.
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.
Chapter One Saturday 27 January 2018 I’ve never been in trouble before. Not the sort of trouble that brought me here. Freshly painted, stark white walls surround me; their toxic scent lingers in the air. A fluorescent glow from strip lights so dazzling they must be there to desensitise the occupants. Everything is white or chrome-like I’m on the set of a futuristic movie. I swing my legs, which dangle over the edge of the bed, not quite reaching the floor. I do this for a minute to keep warm. Despite the blanket around my shoulders, I can’t help but shiver. It’s late and they didn’t bring my jacket. I guess it’s been taken away as evidence. The woman in front of me is standing too close, hot breath on my arm. It makes me squirm and I fight the urge to yank my hand away from her grip. She’s holding it like I’m a china doll, fragile and easily broken. I dislike the invasion of my personal space. It’s something I’ve learnt to tolerate over the years. I was never a big fan of being touched, shrinking away if someone brushed past me or stood too close on public transport. I’m not a hugger either – no one was in the house where I grew up. After tonight, I can’t imagine I’ll let anyone touch me again. Her name is Doctor Joyce Hargreaves, she told me as we entered the victim examination room. Her job, she said, was to collect evidence from me, which is why she was wearing a paper suit, so there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination. She hasn’t picked up on my anxiety, the tremor in my fingers; she’s too busy. Brows furrowed, eyes focused as she peels the plastic bag away from my bloodied hand to collect scrapings from my skin and beneath my fingernails. The tool she uses makes me nervous. ‘Is that a scalpel?’ my voice barely a whisper. ‘No, it’s a scraper. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. This is just so I can make sure we collect any skin cells that may be buried underneath the tips of your nails. I’m afraid I’ll have to give them a trim in a minute too.’ She wields the scraper with care and it’s true, it doesn’t hurt. Physically I’m okay, except my throat is on fire and the ringing in my ears is deafening, timed perfectly with the throbbing of my face. I have a feeling I might feel worse once the adrenaline leaves my system. When she finishes with my hands, she pulls the fallen blanket back over my shoulders and offers a kind smile as she pushes her glasses up her nose. I can see strands of greying hair trying to escape by her ear, exposed beneath the coverall hat. She wears no jewellery and her face is free of make-up. Was she on duty or has she been called out of her bed to attend to me? Would we recognise each other in different circumstances? Probably not, I must be one of many people that pass through this room every day. Joyce delicately inserts each of the specimens into small tubes before labelling them to be sent for analysis. I don’t know why? I’ve told them what happened. Soon she’ll want to examine me thoroughly. Internally. Until there are no more swabs left to be taken. She glances at me, knowing what is coming, what she must ask me to do. Her eyes are full of pity. I must look a mess. Dried blood on my face and chest is beginning to flake away, like charred skin falling into my lap. My cheek is puffy and the vision poor on my left side. I wish I could stop shivering. They said it’s shock and provided me with a mug of hot, sweet tea after the ambulance checked me over. They wanted to make sure the blood I am doused in isn’t mine. It isn’t.