A gorgeous timeslip romance.
Maddie is restless in London. She has friends, a job and a sort-of boyfriend, but something in her life is missing. Then she visits the ancient village of Walditch, deep in the Dorset countryside. Something stirs in her, and on a whim she buys a centuries-old cottage and moves there three months later. Her friends think she’s crazy, but for Maddie it feels like coming home.
Late at night in the cottage, Maddie hears strange noises and sees mist gathering indoors and out. When she starts investigating the cottage’s history, she becomes drawn into the tragic story of a family who lived here 400 years ago. Meanwhile, Maddie starts to fall in love with a local carpenter – but he has a relationship already…
Can Maddie solve the riddle of the past? What is her connection with the family that lived there so many years ago? And can she and her true love ever be together?
Previously published as The Forgotten Promise.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I live in a sixteenth-century converted barn, and just standing in it, thinking how long it has stood over looking the Exmoor landscape is awe inspiring. So, I can fully appreciate the inspiration behind, this lovely timeslip romance set in Dorset.
Serendipity plays an important part in this book. I was drawn to Maddie’s story, as soon as I read about her unexplained, and out of character attraction to the old cottage, formerly a blacksmith’s, when she visited the village as part of her work. The story is cleverly written, so that Maddie’s experiences at the cottage are believable. Set in the present, as she brings her new home up to date, there are many slips into the past as historic events and a time defying love unfolds.
Maddie’s leaves a well-paid career and a glamorous life in London behind her. At a crossroads in her life she is not sure why, but as the story progresses, things start to fall into place. Her meeting and attraction to Nick is powerful but fraught with conflict. Their chance of something developing seems remote.
The characters are complex and realistic, the situations they find themselves in believable. The pacing and the timeslip element make this an absorbing read. I couldn’t put it down, literally I read it into the night.
The poignant ending is perfect, and the epilogue draws everything together in this gentle, timeslip, romantic story.
Guest Post – Kate Ryder – Secrets of the Mist
I’m so thrilled to be invited on your guest post. Thank you!
Do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time? I have explored this theme in Secrets of the Mist, a time slip romance that encompasses self-discovery and a great love resonating across the ages. With supernatural, historical and geographical overtones, it should appeal to fans of Kate Mosse, Diana Gabaldon and Barbara Erskine.
A few years ago, my husband and I moved to Cornwall and bought a derelict, 200 year old cottage. Whilst carrying out extensive renovations and taking the cottage back to its shell, we discovered a time capsule left by a previous owner. The contents were fascinating, if not that old (circa 1980), and made me consider previous occupants during the past two centuries, the lives they led and the dramas that may have taken place within the four walls of our cottage.
Apart from spending days mixing cement, procuring building materials and helping to install the plumbing and electrics (must remember to add these to my CV!) I was also selling complementary health products at country fairs throughout Devon and Cornwall. One day, a chance conversation with a fellow trader set my creative juices flowing as she described a Dartmoor cottage she once owned, which had an unusual, internal stained-glass window and unaccountable cold corners. Well… that was all the encouragement I needed!
At the time I was a member of a local writers group and, suitably fired up, I penned a short story. The room fell silent as I read it out to my fellow writers and all wanted to know what happened next. During this period I had to travel up to the South East on a fairly regular basis. On one particular trip I took a detour to Dorset and discovered the villages of Walditch and Shipton Gorge, which became the setting for the tale. Furthermore, whilst researching the villages and surrounding area, I uncovered historic events on which to pin the story. Three months – I mentioned I was fired up, didn’t I? – and 85,000 words later, I had a novel!
I self-published the book as The Forgotten Promise, and this version achieved one of the first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” awards. I am very fortunate that Aria agreed to publish the novel and, with further time-slip development, it is now Secrets of the Mist. Lastly, but by no means least, I must mention the lovely cover, which has a softly haunting feel and is totally appropriate to the story.
Kate Ryder writes
romantic suspense with a true-to-life narrative. Her passion is writing (a
period during which she studied acting only confirmed her preference for
writing rather than performing!). Since then she has worked in the publishing,
tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’
Association and the Society of Authors. Kate lives in Cornwall with her husband
and a newly acquired rescue cat.
In 2017 Kate signed a 4-book publishing contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus). Her first novel, ‘Summer in a Cornish Cove’, saw her nominated for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award. Under its original self-published title, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, ‘Secrets of the Mist’, was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s “Search for a Star” and awarded a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.
Extract From: Secrets of the Mists – Kate Ryder
We arrived in Walditch late morning, having first visited the Bridport estate agents, Randall & Mather, to pick up the keys for The Olde Smithy. As we pulled up alongside Walditch village green I noticed a few people already sitting outside the Blacksmith’s Arms. Casually, I wondered if there might be an opportunity of work in that establishment.
Clambering down from the van, I stretched and rubbed my hands together. ‘OK, let’s get cracking.’
Over the next couple of hours we unloaded the van, depositing bags and furniture in various rooms. Dan hit his head several times on the low beams of the downstairs rooms, but I had no such trouble. At five feet four inches I was a good ten inches shorter.
‘Must have been midgets in the seventeenth century!’ he muttered, ferociously rubbing his skull.
According to Randall & Mather, the cottage dated back to the mid-1600s, in part. The property details stated: A charming, two-bedroom period cottage situated in Walditch, a village set deep in hilly countryside yet only a mile from Bridport and West Bay. The Olde Smithy offers discerning buyers an opportunity to put their stamp on a property steeped in history but with all modern-day conveniences.
The sitting/dining room, kitchen and master bedroom were in the original part of the building, and all had heavily beamed ceilings and uneven floors, while a two-storey extension, built during the late 1980s, created a hallway, downstairs bathroom and first-floor guest bedroom. A small, overgrown, cottage-style garden to the front opened directly onto the village green and to the rear, immediately accessed from the kitchen, was a courtyard created by a collection of outhouses, one being an outside privy. A pathway led past the outbuildings to a further area of overgrown garden where there were three gnarled and twisted fruit trees, in desperate need of pruning, and the outline of a long-forgotten vegetable bed. To my delight, at the far end, was a neglected pond.
The day passed quickly and we busied ourselves unpacking boxes, stacking shelves and filling cupboards. I had energy to spare. Soon, the cottage soon took shape and by the time the elongating shadows of the oak tree encroached upon the front garden it felt homely. Only the last remaining packing boxes stacked in the hallway and the lack of curtains at the windows declared me a new occupant. I made a mental note to buy fabric during the next few days to remedy this, as I’d been unable to salvage any window dressings from the flat. Being a Victorian conversion, the apartment had tall sash windows to which the landlord had fitted vertical blinds.
As the day progressed, Dan regained a cheerful disposition and his earlier melancholy evaporated. He was busy cleaning the fireplace as I rummaged through a box in the kitchen, searching for elusive teabags. I paused and looked around appreciatively at the beams, the flagstone floor and the view of the courtyard through the small-paned windows. I could already see next spring’s hanging baskets on the outhouse walls. I smiled, instinctively knowing that all that had gone before was simply leading to this day.
‘Hey, Mads, take a look at this,’ Dan called from the sitting room.
I turned and walked to the doorway. A thick haze filled the room and I marvelled at how much dust he’d created. I was about to suggest he let in some fresh air when I noticed all the windows were open wide. I frowned. How strange… The room was full of fog and yet there was a strong breeze blowing outside.
It must have been a trick of the light because, as Dan turned, his blond hair appeared darker and longer and he seemed less tall and lean; an altogether rougher version. I blinked and shook my head, as if brushing away the image. As quickly as he had appeared altered, there he was, once again, the Dan I knew.
‘What have you found?’ I walked across the room and saw a small opening in the stonework to one side of the inglenook. ‘How did that happen?’
‘One of the stones was loose. It came away quite easily when I investigated. I think there’s something behind it.’
‘Clear away a bit more,’ I said, enthusiastically. ‘It might be a bread oven.’
Placing his long fingers into the gap, he teased away at the stones around the opening. For a moment nothing happened but then one suddenly shifted, coming away in his hand. There was a definite edge to the hole. I peered inside at a hidden void.
‘Wow, how exciting!’
Without hesitation, I inserted my hand and felt around, unsure what I expected to find, but apart from a thick layer of dust and rubble, the alcove was empty. Disappointment flooded through me.
‘I’ll make a feature of it,’ I said. ‘I’ll visit a reclamation yard and find a door that fits.’
‘This cottage will give up more of its secrets as time goes by.’
As Dan spoke the words I became aware of an expectant stillness in the air.
‘Why did you say that?’ I asked sharply.
‘Well, these old places always have secrets, don’t they? And this one’s had four hundred years to collect them.’
Suddenly I felt hot and short of breath. Feeling dizzy, I reached out for Dan, as if trying to hold on to something solid; something I could trust.
He caught hold of my arm. ‘Hey, steady, Mads!’
Beads of perspiration pricked my forehead and I struggled to hold back rising nausea.
‘You OK?’ Dan asked with concern.
‘I just need some fresh air,’ I gasped.
‘Tell you what – let’s abandon the tea thing and go to the pub instead.’ This was his answer to most things.
‘Yeah, I could do with a drink.’
He smiled at me.
‘And dinner’s on me,’ I said weakly, hurrying towards the door.
‘Now, there’s an offer I can’t possibly refuse, but won’t that be a tad messy?’