One Last Shot concludes the trilogy of Freddie and Jo-Jo, which has moved through time in a series of flashbacks, showing how the couple fell in love as teenagers, why they drifted apart, what happened in their lives away from each other, and what happens when they meet up again over three decades later. At the end of the second book, An Extra Shot, Jo-Jo tells Freddie about her dark secret. Confused, vulnerable and in a state of shock, he says he needs time to think about what to do next. Jo-Jo’s right to be worried. Freddie doesn’t react well…
by Stephen Anthony Brotherton, Author of the Shots trilogy.
Hunting for Ghosts
1.00 AM. Rocky tosses the remains of a double Monterey Jack burger into his mouth and swallows it in one. He settles back in a tweed covered Sherlock chair, wipes grease from his chin with the back of his hand, and closes his eyes.
‘Is everything okay, young man?’
‘Jesus,’ says Rocky, his eyes flashing open. ‘You scared the crap out of me.’
Ned tightens his dressing gown belt, sits down on the settee and nods at the monitor on the glass topped coffee table. ‘You getting anything?’
‘Not yet,’ says Rocky. ‘They’re unpredictable things, spooks. Invisible prey most of the time.’
‘You’ve hunted a lot then?’
‘Yeah, of course. Don’t worry. I’ve got motion detectors in every room. Nothing squeaks in this house without it flashing up on my screen. If there’s a ghost here, I’ll find it.’
3.00 AM. The monitor crackles awake. Ned nudges Rocky.
‘She’s here, son. In the bathroom.’
Rocky rubs his eyes and stares at the screen. A flickering head and shoulders shadow has anchored itself on the white porcelain tiles. Suddenly, the shower gushes into life. Rocky grabs Ned’s arm. ‘Who’s in the house? Who else is here?’
‘It’s the ghost. What are you waiting for?’
The grandfather clock stops ticking. Someone turns off the shower.
‘If this is your idea of a joke, old man.’
4.00 A.M. Alice looks up from her knitting. ‘How did you find him?’
‘He’s got a ‘Ghouls for Us’ logo in the Yellow Pages.’
‘How exciting. What did he do?’
‘Nothing. He’s a charlatan.’
‘So why was he here?’
‘To relieve the boredom.’
She stands up and walks over to the window. Ned puts his arm around her shoulder and she snuggles into his chest. They watch in silence as Rocky drags his trolley load of equipment down the driveway back to his white transit van. The wheels of the trolley wedge in the flint chippings. Rocky stumbles. Alice laughs. Ned squeezes her closer and kisses the top of her head.
‘I miss you,’ he says. ‘I will always miss you.’
I was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai.
After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now written the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.
The Shots trilogy is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes.
Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An interesting novel. Set predominately in Australia, in the 1970s, it traces the lives of a young couple who emigrated from England to Australia in 1970. Prejudice and social injustice are explored, on their voyage to their new home. The details of life as a migrant in Australia, build the world Anna and Joe find themselves in. Anna loves her new country but when her circumstances change the rose coloured glasses cloud a little.
Told in the third person, it reads like a memoir. Anna’s emotional struggles are believable, and her escape into literature is relatable. A flawed, pioneering woman, Anna highlights the forgotten in society insightfully.
This historically based novel is intrinsically interesting and thought-provoking.
Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:
Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.
Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016.
The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.
Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017
Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Feed Thy Enemy, based on her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
A Question of Country explores the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity. Next Chapter (formerly Creativia Publishing), 2020.
Sue’s current project, working title: Twenty-eight Days, first in The Doorkeeper series,isset in Southern Australia in 2100. It deals with overpopulation and extended life expectancy in an increasingly climate-challenged world and the inhumane solutions adopted by a government determined to rid Australia of unproductive citizens.
Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism. Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.
When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.
Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.
Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.
As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…
Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a heart-warming, sun-drenched and magical French adventure.
I received a copy of this book from the author and Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
Fern is sure something is going to happen, to disturb her life’s status quo, but she doesn’t know what it is. If her body’s reaction is an indication it’,s not going to be good. I love the intuitive protagonists the author creates. They give the story an added dimension, adding to the characters’ complexity and depth.
Fern finds that money isn’t everything when her stable world implodes. She finds herself in Provence, not sure what to expect, or why she’ s there. The characters she meets are diverse and all have a story. The group dynamics that develop are authentic. They provide a sympathetic setting for Fern’ s emotional journey.
Nico is an enigma, a successful artist he has the moody temperament and a magnetic personality. Drawn to the latent talent he sees in Fern, he mentors her. Fern enjoys his focus, appreciated for something other than her problem-solving skills. There is romance in this story, but it’s a meeting of minds, rather than physical completion. There is one sensual scene, towards the end that is beautifully written and makes Fern challenge, everything she believes about her life and relationship.
The story is easy to read, full of interesting people and activities. Character-driven it takes you on a sensual journey of exploration. With its touches of drama, poignancy and romance you enjoy a lovely escape from reality. The ending is full of twists and completes this journey of minds and spirits in a satisfying way.
From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’
Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels – including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.
When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi.
Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic.
Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the SoA and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.
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A page-turning new cosy novel in the bestselling Love Heart Lane series.
Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what.
When Vet Rory Scott inherits ramshackle Clover Cottage in the quaint village of Heartcross, Allie MacDonald just knows this is their happy ever after. A place to call home with the man she loves – it’s her dream come true!
Until Rory drops a bombshell. He loves Allie but he has dreams of his own to follow – to live and work in Africa. Clover Cottage will have to wait just a little longer…
Allie can’t imagine life without Rory, but she loves him too much to hold him back. And as he embarks on his adventure, Allie begins to rethink her own plans. She loves Rory and knows she wants him in her life, but maybe she can follow her own dreams too?
And always there, nestled in the beautiful village of Heartcross, surrounded by the people she loves, will be the place that will always bring them back to each other. Their forever home, Clover Cottage.
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The third in the Love Heart Lane series, Clover cottage reads well as a standalone. I have read the first book in the series, but not the second. Allie and Rory’s relationship appears to be following its expected path. When Vet Rory’s parents offer him a cottage that needs doing up, Allie sees this as a positive step. Rory sees it as another way his parents are directing his life, possibly not in the way he wants it to go. This is a realistic story of wanting to follow your dreams but not wanting to hurt those you love. The delicacy of Allie and Rory’s relationship is the mainstay, of this, but there is a much wider story too.
Family secrets are explored with some surprisingly poignant revelations. The community is authentic and relatable and they give this story its engaging quality. A new temporary villager brings glamour and a new perspective to the group of friends.
The characters draw you in and you become embroiled in their lives, making this an emotional read. There are many lighthearted moments and a few sad ones, but the ending is heartwarming and uplifting.
This is definitely a village to settle in if you want to escape to the country.
Christie Barlow is the international bestselling author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA, Canada & Australia.
Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being.
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.
AJ Williams wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a girl on the internet. But he did.
Other than living over five thousand miles away in Northern Ireland, Lisa Millar is seemingly his perfect match. AJ can’t quite believe his luck, not only is she beautiful, but she has an appreciation for both music and hockey – two of his favorite things.
Surprised by Lisa turning up unannounced in Alabama, AJ is under pressure to deal with the issue at hand. Should he risk losing her, come clean and tell her the truth? Or should he try to keep his secret under wraps?
Will true love win out? Or will AJ’s secret be too much for Lisa to bear?
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.