Blog Tour Dear Darling by Ellen Faith
CHOO CHOO NEXT STATION ON THIS BLOG TOUR TRAIN IS MEEEE (NATS READING CLOUD
Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.
Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…
Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!
Fall in love with Ashford, Connecticut in this dazzling and beautiful romance from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin.
Don’t miss a single book in the Once in a Lifetime collection:
The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy:
Book 1 – Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe
Book 2 – Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe
(The Bookshop on the Corner)
Book 3 – Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe
The Little Paris Collection:
The Little Bookshop on the Seine (coming October 2015)
The Little Antique Shop under the Effiel Tower
The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Elysees
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.
Come chat with Rebecca on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor
Firstly thank you Rebecca for sending me a copy for a review, I absolutely loved it and also honored to be part of the blog tour sothank you Tay and Rebecca for allowing me to take part
This book is all about Lucy and her story, I loved the idea of going to a bus station and getting on the first bus to see where it takes you in my eyes thats just so magical and also brave and I since reading this book I have been thinking about it a lot and it has given me itchy feet for an adventure.
I only found about Rebecca since I started Blogging (where have I been!!) I am so glad I have because she such a brilliant Author and I find myself immersed into her world from page 1 of a book.
Banner credited to Gina Dickerson: http://rosewolfdesign.wix.com/rosewolfdesign)
Today I am part of The Lost Child Blog Tour with a q & a with Ann Troup
Hello Ann– Thank you for taking part in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself to my readers..?
Hi, and thank you for having me here today. I’m Ann Troup and I am the author of The Lost Child, my debut novel which came out on 19th May this year. I live in Devon, right next to the sea and spend my time making things up, writing them down and creating books. When I’m not doing that I am usually chasing about with my dog on the beach, or making other things – I am also an artist and like to dabble with all sorts of different media.
The Lost Child can you tell us a bit about it?
The Lost Child is essentially the story of the mysterious disappearance of Mandy Miller and how it affected her family and the community where she went missing. The story is set in the fictional village of Hallow’s End, a curious, secretive place that seems to be stuck in time along with most of its residents. Mandy’s sister Brodie and her new found friend Elaine stumble across the secrets and lies that have masked Mandy’s fate and unravel the mystery, but with consequences they couldn’t have anticipated. It would seem that some secrets are best left buried…
How did you go about doing the research for the The Lost Child?
I didn’t need to do much formal research for the book, living in Devon made setting the scene fairly straightforward and the backstory of the characters came from long years of people watching. I did do some historical research into the setting of Hallow’s Court and did find that there are still houses like this in many areas of the country. The only problem with researching is that it becomes so fascinating that it’s easy to forget why you are doing it. There were a few days when the book became very neglected in favour of some serious Google self indulgence. One thing that I would like on tap is my own police officer, so that I can check the accuracy of police procedure, that would be handy especially if said officer would be willing to do the hoovering and make the coffee while I write! Fortunately I have many knowledgeable friends who are willing to help, even if they do draw the line at doing my housework.
Who are your favorite Authors? And what genre of books do you enjoy reading?
It’s much easier for me to list the genres I rarely read than to describe the ones that I do. I rarely read high fantasy, too much world building and who begat who – my poor brain wont retain it! I also rarely read romance now, mainly because I gorged on it when I was younger, found my own romance, played the ‘reader, I married him’ card and get to live it out every day – which is nice
(anyone who follows me on twitter wont believe a word of that!)
Long time favourite authors are Kate Atkinson, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, John Steinbeck…the list goes on. My current favourites are Lee Child (love a bit of Reacher), Ben Aaronovitch, Charlie Stross, Phil Rickman…I could crash your site if I go on. Suffice it to say, I read a lot and always appreciate good writing and fresh voices.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
For me it is the freedom to construct something exactly the way I want it to be. I can right wrongs, manipulate environments, cast characters and see what they get up to and generally escape into my imagination any time I want to. It’s like being a kid again, which is never a bad thing as long as I remember to be an adult sometimes.
Favourite writing place?
I usually write in my little office, which is fondly known as the Empty Nest. It was my youngest child’s bedroom until she moved away. Now it is full of creative paraphernalia and junk and is my favourite room in the house. It’s very light and sunny and is the one room that is all mine and that I don’t have to tidy if I don’t want to. I dread the day someone wants me to post a picture of it, I would probably get a visit from one of those ‘Hoarders: buried Alive’ programmes!
I see you also have a blog – have you got any blog tips you would like to share?
I do have a blog, and it is my nemesis. I can write a book no problem at all, but blog posts? Gah, I really struggle! I tend to just post about the silly things that happen to me, or my bizarre thought processes about things. I like to pretend that no one will ever read it and that it’s fine to tell the world that I really am mostly daft and live in my own little world. My only tip would be; don’t ask my advice on blogging unless you want the world to think that you are a slightly inept, cardigan-wearing buffoon.
And finally – have you started writing your next book? Any clues as to what it maybe about?
I have started my next book. It has a similar flavor and tone to The Lost Child, but entirely different setting and characters. It will also be a mite darker as it revolves around a series of gruesome murders and a man who was wrongfully hanged. I am also writing a series, but I will keep that under wraps for now.
Thanks so much for having me, it’s been a lot of fun answering your questions.
Mandy Miller disappeared from Hallow’s End when she was just 3 years old. She was never found.
Thirty years on, Elaine Ellis is carrying her mother’s ashes back to Hallow’s End to scatter them in the place that she once called home. Elaine has never been there, but it’s the only place Jean talked about while she was growing up – so it seems as good a place as any.
As Elaine settles into her holiday cottage in the peaceful Devonshire village, she gets to know the locals; family she never knew she had, eccentric and old-fashioned gentry, and new friends where she would least expect them. But she is intrigued by the tale of the missing girl that the village still carries at its heart, and which somehow continues to overshadow them all. Little does she know how much more involved in the mystery she will become…
Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.
Her writing space is known as ‘the empty nest’, having formerly been her daughters bedroom. She shares this space with ten tons of junk and an elderly Westie, named Rooney, who is her constant companion whether she likes it or not. He likes to contribute to the creative process by going to sleep on top of her paperwork and running away with crucial post-it notes, which have inadvertently become stuck to his fur. She is thinking of renaming him Gremlin.
She lives by the sea in Devon with her husband and said dog. Two children have been known to remember the place that they call home, but mainly when they are in need of a decent roast dinner, it’s Christmas or when only Mum will do. She also has extremely decent stepchildren.
I am delighted to one of the bloggers to share with you the first Chapter of Holly Martin’s New Book Fairytale Beginnings enjoy
Milly drove up the steep, curvy, cliff top lanes with the warm sun on her back and the wind in her hair. From up here, she could see the sparkling blue of the sea below her stretching out for miles into the horizon. It was a beautiful day, made even lovelier by the endless yellow fields of rapeseed on the other side of her. It smelt wonderful but she wished it was clover instead as that might be some indication that she was going in the right direction.
She was hopefully heading towards Clover’s Rest. The satnav had, of course, stopped working half an hour ago and all she was left with was a flashing question mark on the screen, indicating that the satnav had no idea where she was. Nothing seemed to be known about the village of Clover’s Rest or Clover Castle which presided over the tiny dwelling. It didn’t appear on any maps, and bizarrely there was no record of it on any kind of historical documentation. That in itself was a mystery and one Milly was keen to solve.
Dick, her beaten up old Triumph, was having trouble with the steep gradient of the inclines and she had spent most of the last fifteen minutes barely coming out of first gear. Her brother, Jamie, had begged her several times to buy a new car but her beloved white Triumph TR2 was her pride and joy.
Up ahead, on the very summit of the hill, she suddenly saw a flash of a blue-topped turret from behind the trees and her heart soared. But no sooner had it appeared, it had gone.
Dick whined as she pushed him round a very steep corner and she leaned forward and gave him a little pat of encouragement. He spluttered and coughed, but thankfully didn’t cut out. The handbrake wasn’t the best and she wasn’t hopeful that Dick could cling to the road surface without sliding back to the foot of the hill again.
Steam started to appear from under Dick’s bonnet as she floored the accelerator and crossed her fingers and toes. She glanced down at her multi-coloured star bracelet and absently made a wish that she would make it to the top of the hill.
‘Just a little further, Dick, come on.’
Dick was barely moving at all now, Milly could get out and walk quicker. As she begged and pleaded with Dick to just last a little bit longer, a kid on his bike rang his bell and scooted round her, disappearing into the trees up ahead.
How insulting to be overtaken by a kid on a BMX. And Dick obviously thought so too as he suddenly found a last bit of energy and groaned and coughed up the last few metres, where the hill finally levelled out.
They shuffled into a tunnel of trees, which swallowed her up, shutting out all the bright daylight behind her and overhead so she was driving through a canopy of total green. It was very dark, with just a tiny pinprick of light ahead of her that she pushed Dick towards. Movement swirled in her rear view mirror; as she glanced up it almost seemed like the trees were closing the gap behind her, covering the road with their tangle of branches so there was no escape.
Dick finally burst through the trees to the other side. Daylight temporarily blinded her, she briefly saw some houses and a village green and then a thick plume of white smoke burst from the engine and the village vanished from view. Dick let out what sounded like a really big fart and then died, smoke still pouring from underneath the bonnet.
Milly sighed. She had asked too much of him, she knew that. It had seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up; going out in her convertible along the seafront when the weather was so hot, and Clover’s Rest was only supposed to be an hour and a half away from where she lived. But Dick was over twice her age and was only really capable of short flat journeys, nothing like the mountainous terrain she had just traversed.
‘It’s ok Dick, you can have a few days to have a little rest and maybe we can find someone to tinker under your bonnet before we go home. And it’s all downhill from here so worst case scenario, we can just roll you home. Plus we’re on holiday next week, I promise you can stay at home every day. I intend to sit in the garden and do nothing but read for the entire week.’
Dick let out a sigh of relief and the smoke slowed and then stopped, revealing the most gorgeous, picturesque village she had ever seen.
Milly quickly got out and gazed across the village green, staring at the whitewashed cottages like a kid in a sweet shop. The roofs were topped with yellow thatch that glinted like gold in the sunlight. They were a hodgepodge collection; the nearest ones to her were timber framed and the ones on the far side were made from stone. But all of them came with their unique lumps and bumps, jutting out bits of stone or bent bits of timber indicating that these houses were hundreds of years old.
She quickly grabbed her suitcase, gave Dick an affectionate pat, and abandoned him on the edge of the green as she walked in awe along the cobbled road.
The historian in her picked out key features in the houses straight away. Of course without certain dating tests it would be hard to be specific, but the first house on the green had to be at least four hundred years old, which meant it should be a listed building. But there had been nothing in any historical documents or files that even indicated this place existed, let alone had listed buildings.
Her toes curled with pleasure at the prospect of what this mysterious Clover Castle looked like. Was it possible that she was going to round the corner of the green and see a sixteenth century undiscovered jewel?
She approached the nearest house and ran her hand appreciatively up the oak timber frame. There was something incredible and humbling about touching something that had been around for hundreds of years. What had this building seen and heard, what stories could it tell?
She leaned closer to the wood and sniffed it. The rich smells of smoke, wood and earth engulfed her and she smiled.
She suddenly realised she wasn’t alone. Milly looked up from the wood into the bulbous eyes of an old man, dressed in a tatty suit. His skin seemed to have shrunk against his bones, making his eyes seem more bulging and protruding. He was chewing on what looked like a small stone, rolling it around his mouth and back again as if he was trying to work out what it tasted like. His white hair stuck out making him look like he was a crazy scientist but he was looking at her as if she was insane, which she supposed she was, standing on someone’s front lawn stroking and smelling the side of the house.
He took a drag of his cigarette and then flicked it into the nearby bushes. She winced at the desecration of such a historic place but chose to ignore it as he still had the moral high ground at the moment, being the slightly saner one of the two.
‘You can’t leave your car there,’ said the man, indicating poor Dick, who looked so deflated and exhausted that even his headlights seemed to be drooping. ‘It’s double yellow lines.’
Sure enough, double yellow lines covered the roads on both sides, as if it was a main road through a busy city rather than a tiny remote village with probably no more than thirty houses. But closer inspection showed the lines to be very wobbly and most likely hand painted. Who would do such a thing? Traffic clearly wasn’t a problem up here, there wasn’t even another car in sight and Dick wasn’t blocking up the road, which was wide enough for two cars to pass easily in both directions.
‘Well unfortunately my car broke down, so it will have to stay there until I can get someone to have a look at it.’
The man sucked air through his teeth and shook his head. ‘Igor won’t like that. It’s likely the car will be towed.’
Igor? Wasn’t that the name of Dracula’s assistant?
‘Sorry, what did you say your name was?’ Milly asked, deliberately.
‘Danny, I’m sure Igor will understand that a broken down car is not my fault. I’m a guest of Lord Heartstone, so if there’s any problem Igor can come and see me at the castle.’
Milly hoped that using Cameron’s name and title would be enough to get Danny to leave her and Dick alone, but that wasn’t the case. Danny’s face suddenly filled with disdain.
‘He isn’t exactly Mr Popular round here at the moment. He’s only been back here a few months and he’s sacked all the staff already. Grumpy sod, too, keeps himself to himself.’
‘Well it’s a big responsibility to suddenly inherit a castle, I’m sure it will take a period of adjustment. I’m here to see if I can help him.’
She spotted a flag flying above the trees and grabbed her suitcase and started walking towards it, hoping that Danny wouldn’t follow her, but he did.
‘It’s the Summer Solstice this weekend, we always have a big celebration and he won’t even be a part of it.’
‘Well maybe I can talk to him.’
She squinted at the flag, it wasn’t like any she had ever seen before. It was hard to see from this distance what was on it, but it looked like a dragon eating a heart.
‘Are you staying up there?’ Danny yelled after her, finally giving up following her.
‘Yes, for a week.’
‘You’ll never leave. Those that stay there never leave.’
She stared at him. These sinister words sent shivers down her spine.
‘And whatever you do, don’t go out after midnight. The Oogie will get you.’
‘A sea monster who eats unwanted visitors.’
‘That’s a local myth, surely.’
Danny shook his head. ‘The village has lost lots of victims to the Oogie. Just don’t go out after midnight and make sure you keep all the doors and windows locked at night.’
He was clearly joking or just insane. Danny wandered off and she stared after him, realising he was only wearing one shoe. Definitely insane. She looked around at this calm, tranquil little village. With the bright sunshine beating down on the little houses, the scent of the roses that twisted round all the doors, she wasn’t going to let some crazy nonsense about a sea monster bring her down.
She had a castle to look at and she couldn’t wait to see it.
Milly walked round the corner into the trees. Up ahead she could see some large, highly decorative wrought iron gates, with swirls and flowers. The gate was probably Victorian or Edwardian. It was very pretty but her heart sank a little bit. It didn’t necessarily mean that the castle was from that era, but she hoped it wasn’t. Castle Heritage, who she worked for, would have nothing to do with the castle if it was from the Edwardian era. They were only interested in ancient relics, particularly those from the medieval period.
She wanted to help Cameron, she really did. She had spoken to him a few times on the phone and he’d sounded desperate. He had this deep, rich, voice that sounded velvety and she guessed he was about fifty years old. She had a way of accurately estimating people’s ages too, not just the age of houses.
It was the stuff of dreams to wake up one morning and find that not only were you a Lord but one that owned a castle too, yet from speaking to Cameron it seemed it was more like a nightmare than a dream.
He’d spoken to her about burst pipes, broken windows, rotting walls, crumbling masonry and a severe damp problem. It wasn’t the inheritance that he had hoped it would be.
If the castle was old enough, Castle Heritage would probably buy it off him or, at the very least, pay to have these things repaired and maintain the upkeep of the place. They might even make it into a tourist attraction if they thought it was a viable option. If she thought it was a viable option. That’s what she was here to assess. The steep incline of the hill was definitely a negative point. Thousands of people every year visited the big castles in the UK. The road she and Dick had driven up earlier couldn’t sustain that many visitors, nor could the tiny village. But if the property was worth it, her company would pay to improve the road too.
She ran her fingers over her multi-coloured star bracelet, as she always did when she wanted something really badly. Most of the time the bracelet let her down but occasionally her wishes came true. Singing the first few lines of the song ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ in her head, she closed her eyes and made a wish. ‘Let the castle be something truly spectacular,’ she whispered.
She opened the gate and it creaked in protest. Clouds skittered across the sun, casting long shadows across the curved drive. As she stepped through the entrance, a cool wind whipped around her, dragging her blonde hair into her face. The wispy summer dress she was wearing hardly seemed appropriate all of a sudden, she should at least have worn a jacket or a cardigan. English weather was always so unpredictable.
She shivered and walked round the corner, pushing the hair out of her eyes so she could get her first glimpse of Clover Castle. And suddenly there it was.
Her heart soared. For someone who had grown up obsessed with all things Disney, and still loved Disney now, years after it was socially acceptable for her to do so, seeing what was quite obviously a real life Cinderella’s castle in front of her was something out of her wildest dreams. Turrets jutted out from all parts of the castle, some protruding out of other turrets. There were four towers, all topped with conical blue spires. From her position at the foot of the drive, she could see twenty-three blue spires, some of which topped the turrets, some that were simply large conical topped pinnacles that didn’t seem to have any purpose other than for decoration. Each spire had a long, gold flagpole on the top with a scarlet banner, apart from the large flag in the middle that had that weird dragon design. She stared at the flag for a moment, although very different in its design, the theme of the dragon wrapped protectively around the heart was eerily similar to the tattoo she had on her right side.
The castle was beautiful but her heart had already plummeted into her shoes. This couldn’t be any more than a hundred years old. It looked Bavarian in its design and was built purely for enjoyment and certainly not to protect.
There was a splendid drawbridge in the middle of the front castle wall but as she walked up the drive she could see there was no moat for the drawbridge to go over.
It seemed as though, at some point over the last hundred years, someone had decided to build a castle, looked at what features other castles had and decided to have one of everything – whether it was needed or not. Or in the case of the spires, twenty-three of them.
Standing on the hilltop with the sea framed dramatically behind it, the castle was an incredible sight. It was magical and arrogant and wonderful all at the same time and … Castle Heritage wouldn’t come anywhere near it.
She might as well turn round and head home now. Her birthday was later this week, and she didn’t really want to be working on her birthday. If she left now she might even be able to start her holiday a few days early. But she had promised Cameron she would stay for a week to do all the tests and surveys. He had already paid Castle Heritage quite a significant sum for her time and services and although she could refund the money there must be something she could do to help him. At the very least she could stay for a couple of days in order to get a feel for the place.
She couldn’t feel too disappointed at her wasted trip, the place was spectacular and she got to sleep here, hopefully in a room fit for a princess in one of the tallest towers.
As she stared up in wonder at this thing of beauty, she heard two deep barks. She turned in time to see a heap of black, shaggy fur before she was knocked to the ground.
‘Gregory, NO!’ a deep voice yelled out.
But Gregory, if that was indeed the beast’s name, was not to be dissuaded. Standing over her, Gregory started bathing her face in pungent wet licks, his coarse tongue tickling her face and making her giggle.
Suddenly the dog was snatched from over her and she was yanked to her feet. She slammed into a hard wall of muscle and looked up into a pair of eyes that were so dark they were almost black. Dark, curly hair topped his head, but she was too close to see any other features. He smelt amazing though, all woody and earthy and wonderful.
‘Oh God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise I pulled you so hard.’ He took a step back and Milly stared up at him, aware that her throat was completely dry. This guy was frigging hot. Dark stubble lined his jaw bone. He was huge too, muscles screaming from every single part of him. He was wearing a suit that was very tight around his broad, muscular shoulders. She felt very under-dressed all of a sudden in her beach dress and sparkly pink Converse trainers.
‘Oh God, your dress, I’m so sorry.’ He stepped forward and brushed her breasts, trying to wipe off the two muddy paw prints that had been imprinted onto the material. His face immediately turned pale as he realised what he had done. He leapt back, looking horrified. ‘I’m so sorry. I … God, I’m so sorry.’
Milly couldn’t help but take pity on him.
‘It’s not the usual greeting I get, normally a handshake would suffice.’
He stared at her for a moment, then laughed, a deep, booming laugh. He offered out his large bear paw of a hand, and she shook it. ‘I’m Cameron Heartstone.’
This gorgeous man was Cameron Heartstone? She had expected someone so much older, probably smoking a pipe and wearing tartan slippers.
‘Milly Rose. We spoke on the phone. It’s good to finally meet you.’
‘Yes of course, come in.’ He bent down to pick up her discarded suitcase. ‘Gregory, Sit! Stay!’ He commanded the black, hairy beast by his side. Gregory was so big Milly thought she might be able to ride him. His eyes were lost under a mass of fur, his pink tongue lolling out the side of his face. He gave a wag of his tail before running off and disappearing round the side of the castle. Clearly very obedient. Cameron sighed and ushered her through a small side door, with his hand in the small of her back. ‘He’s not my dog, he sort of came with the castle. The first day I arrived he turned up and hasn’t left since. He doesn’t belong to anyone in the village, so I guess I’m stuck with him.’
He was clearly nervous, though she wasn’t sure why. He pulled at his collar, obviously not comfortable wearing a shirt and tie. Had he dressed up for her?
She stepped through into a warm kitchen, with a large wooden table standing in the middle and wooden benches either side. The walls were painted a cosy terracotta. Delicious, tangy smells reached her and her stomach gurgled appreciatively. An Aga stood at one end of the room and something was bubbling away in a huge pot on top.
‘I’ll make us some lunch. Will your boss be joining us soon?’
‘My boss? I don’t really have one. Well, the board of directors at Castle Heritage are sort of my bosses, but I mainly work for myself.’
Her heart sank a bit. He had been expecting someone older, too.
‘Oh, well, the science people, the historians, the ones who will do all the tests?’
‘That would be me.’
He stared at her, disappointment registering on his face. He looked her up and down disdainfully. ‘They’ve sent me a child, is this someone’s idea of a joke? Your idea of history is probably what happened in EastEnders last week.’
Milly felt her mouth fall open. She was used to getting some prejudice when she turned up at these historic places. With her long blonde hair, large blue eyes and Mary Poppins style rosy cheeks, no one thought she was capable of having any knowledge of history at all. She knew she didn’t help these first impressions by having pink tipped hair and sparkly clothes and shoes, but generally the comments she got were little jokes. That remark about her historical knowledge hurt. And she had never been called a child before. This man couldn’t be any more than five years older than she was, although, being so short, she knew she looked a lot younger than her actual age.
She drew herself up to her full height, which did nothing to diminish the height difference between them.
‘I am not a child. I’m twenty-eight years old. You judgemental ass. You see the blonde hair and the pretty dress and automatically assume that I’m some kind of bimbo. I have a Doctorate in Archaeology and Historic Architecture. I have a Master of Science degree in Heritage Conservation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Medieval History. I have extensive experience in dendrochronological and geophysical surveying and my PhD studies required detailed research into archaeological remains, excavation and historic building construction. I guarantee I know more about this castle than you could possibly ever know but if that isn’t good enough for you, I will quite happily leave right now and take every chance of you ever working with Castle Heritage with me.’
She stormed to the door but he beat her to it, slamming it closed before she’d only opened it an inch.
‘You can’t leave.’
‘Just watch me.’ She tugged at the door but he leaned against it, so it didn’t budge. She tried again.
She stopped tugging, but didn’t let go of the handle.
‘I really am.’
She looked up at him and his eyes were honest and concerned.
‘I’ve hurt you and it really wasn’t my intention to do that. It’s been a really bad couple of weeks, well, a bad couple of months if I’m honest. Since my dad died and I inherited this place, it’s been one problem after another. He was in so much debt and that debt doesn’t appear to have died with him. There is no money in this estate, none at all, and he was still paying all the staff here right up till he died but I can’t see how or where the money came from. I’ve had to let them all go, which means everyone in the village hates me and I’ve been going through all his paperwork and keep uncovering more and more problems. Without the staff the place will fall into ruin. I have no money for any of the repairs or to pay any of his debts and quite frankly the idea of selling the place to Palace Hotels and making it into a five star resort is looking very appealing right now. You are my last hope. I looked at you and thought …’
‘You thought wrong.’
‘I know, I’m sorry, I had no right to judge you by your appearance. I’m a terrible judge of character, I really am. I should have learned my lesson by now, not to judge a book by its cover. The people I’ve trusted have sold me out and betrayed me. I’ve had my share of model girlfriends, the types that look good on your arm but with not a lot else going for them and … I … Well, I’m really sorry. Please stay, at least have some lunch whilst I beg your forgiveness some more.’
Milly felt all the fight go out of her. She couldn’t hold a grudge for long. Besides, she was starving and the soup that was bubbling on top of the stove smelt amazing.
‘Ok. I’ll stay for lunch, but it depends how good the soup is whether I stay longer.’
His mouth lifted up into small, cautious smile and he gestured for her to sit down.
‘There’s a hell of a lot riding on this soup then. If I’d known that perhaps I would have thought about the recipe a little more carefully instead of just throwing everything into the pot with a bit of seasoning.’
She sat down on the bench and watched him fill two big bowls. There was nothing graceful about him. The soup splatted into the bowl and over the sides and he didn’t seem to care. There were big chunks of meat, large slices of potato, whole florets of cauliflower, all of which should have been blended or at least chopped smaller. He grabbed a large round loaf and tore it into chunks. He plonked the bowl down in front of her and left her half of the loaf on the table next to her bowl, not even on a plate. The man really had no finesse. He sat down opposite her and took a big bite of the bread. He was like a caveman and strangely she found his raw masculinity a bit of a turn on.
‘Do you normally have such gay abandon with your food?’
He paused with the spoon halfway to his mouth. ‘It seems to work.’
He gestured for her to try it and she took a small sip from her spoon. It was incredible, so thick and full of flavour. ‘It’s really good. Did you make the bread too?’
He nodded, before biting off another huge chunk from his loaf. ‘It’s potato bread.’
She took a small piece and bit into it. It tasted delicious. ‘You’re actually really good at this “throw it all into the pot and see if it works” method.’
He shrugged shyly. ‘It’s kind of how I write my books, too.’
‘What kind of books do you write?’
‘Children’s books, with magical forests and super powers and fantasy adventures. But I never plan anything or follow any set rules. A lot of my author friends will have post it notes and charts and character interviews or CVs but I never do any of that, I just sit down and write. People seem to like it. I mean, I have enough to live off and pay the bills but I’m not going to be buying an island in the Caribbean any time soon.’
‘Well if you have enough money to write full time, you must be doing something right.’
He shrugged again, obviously not keen to admit that he was any good.
‘I’d like to read them.’
He shook his head. ‘They’re just kids’ stuff, not your thing at all, I’m sure.’
‘As we’ve already established, my thing is very different to what you think my thing is.’
‘Right, of course.’ He swallowed a big lump of bread and didn’t look up at all after that.
She sighed. She didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable around her. She already regretted her little outburst earlier, she was normally much more professional than that.
‘Thank you for letting me stay, there was nowhere else anywhere near here apart from the tiny B&B I booked and when their pipes burst and flooded the house, I was at a bit of a loss for what to do.’
‘It’s fine,’ Cameron said, in a way that said it really wasn’t fine.
‘Don’t feel that you have to cook for me or anything. This is lovely,’ she gestured to the soup. ‘But I can look after myself. I presume the village has a shop. I can buy some food and make my own meals. You don’t have to worry about that.’
‘I have food here, it’s silly for both of us to be cooking separate meals, unless you’re on some weird diet,’ he glanced briefly at her slender frame. People always assumed she ate really healthily when the truth was miles apart.
‘I eat anything.’
‘Then we might as well eat together.’
‘I don’t want to be in your way.’
‘You won’t. I have work to do and you’ll have tests and measurements to do so I hope … I mean I guess we won’t be getting in each other’s hair too much.’
He didn’t want her there and her heart sank even more at this. Well, if he didn’t want her to stay and she probably couldn’t help him anyway, maybe she would only stay one night after all.
‘Tell me about the castle.’
He looked across the table at her. ‘I don’t know a lot. I used to live here when I was very young, but my mum took me away when I was about six. I never saw my dad after that and I never came back here either. They were always arguing, mainly about the lack of money, even back then. Mum wanted to sell the place and move, my dad refused, so she left. I know it’s been in the family for hundreds of years, hence the rather obnoxious title of Lord that I’ve been bequeathed.’
Milly sat up straighter. The castle she had seen from the outside was not hundreds of years old, but that didn’t mean there hadn’t been some recent modifications to the original structure. Perhaps the Cinderella façade was hiding something far more exciting and mysterious.
If you enjoyed the first chapter of Fairytale Beginnings, you can download the whole book here. Its only 99p for the next few days.
Love is an open door…except when it keeps slamming in your face
Hopeless romantic Milly Rose has had her fair share of heartbreak. Obsessed with all things Disney, she refuses to give up on finding her Prince Charming – he’s out there somewhere, isn’t he?
When Milly is given a job to investigate the origins of a historical building in the village of Clover’s Rest, she’s not sure what to expect. What she discovers takes her breath away – a beautiful real life Cinderella castle, complete with turrets, a magnificent drawbridge AND a very handsome owner…Cameron Heartstone.
As Milly and Cameron begin to unearth the secrets of Clover Castle, they can’t ignore the intense chemistry building between them. But they’ve both been hurt badly before. Can they take a big leap of faith and find their own happily-ever-after?
Firstly Thank you to bookouture for sending me an ARC of this for an honest review
Holly Martin is such a super talented author I have enjoyed all the books I have read by her. This novel Fairytale beginnings was such an enchanting modern fairytale which takes you to the magical Clover castle with Milly where she meets the dreamy Cameron and a host of other characters dead and alive !!!!
The story completely drew me in and I finished it within 1 day and a late night, it had lots of romance, plenty of humor and lots of references to Disney
This is a glittering page turner
4 of 5 stars
Banner Credit goes to Gina Dickerson: http://rosewolfdesign.wix.com/rosewolfdesign)
Today on the blog I am delighted to host the lovely Zoe Markham who has written a guest post about ‘never giving up’
Thank you for joining me Zoe
Never Give Up!
When I first decided to start submitting to agents and publishers, I sat myself down and told myself that there would be a lot of rejections, but it would be fine; I would deal with them in a sensible, adult manner. Then I remembered that sensible adults are a bit boring, so I decided instead I’d shoulder them like a wise, unflappable owl (I’m not sure where I got that from because I’m neither wise nor unflappable by nature, but I liked the idea.) I would be humble and dignified in defeat, whilst patiently plugging away with my writing in the background.
I used to work ten-hour days and come home shattered, but write determinedly at night, emptying the characters in my head onto paper whilst refreshing my email every 20 minutes in the background. Part of me was even eager to get those first few ‘no’s under my belt and build my resolve.
Everyone gets rejections, I’d keep telling myself. J.K. Rowling got 12.
And I was right. There were rejections. And it wasn’t too bad at first. “Very much enjoyed reading your submission – Not quite right for us at this time – Extremely subjective business – Wish you every success elsewhere.” Everyone was very polite, even apologetic in some cases. This isn’t so bad, I thought. I developed a tendency to reply, thanking them for their kind rejections and wishing them many bestsellers in the future. I was the owliest owl ever.
It didn’t take me long to hit 12, and at that point I caught myself thinking, There, I’ve done my time, now we can get started!
(See? I did say, not wise by nature!)
By the time I hit 20 rejections I was beginning to flap. My eye would twitch every time I got an email.
When I hit 30, I went from a sort of indignant, arrogant Why doesn’t anyone want this? It’s good? to Hang on, this must be terrible, what was I thinking?
I’d clearly been a complete idiot, kidding myself that I could write. And I resolved to do exactly what I’d told myself I wouldn’t: Give up.
Submissions take time. Every agent and publisher has different guidelines, wants to see different things, and one submission can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to put together. I realised that I could save myself loads of writing time if I stopped bothering with them altogether.
And that’s when it hit me.
I was still going to write either way. Writing had become such a part of me that I wasn’t ever going to stop.
I took a break from submitting for a couple of months. I started working on a new novel. I re-owled myself. And when I was feeling better, I dug my original book out of its folder and sent it back out on its way.
And without a word of a lie, albeit ten months later on the turnaround, submission number 31 was the one that struck a deal (yep, I kept a numbered list of them).
Nothing had changed; the words were exactly the same; they’d just landed in the right inbox. Two days after I’d signed on the dotted line, submission number 32 also came back with an offer.
So if your eye ever twitches when you check your email and you get tired of hearing ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ – just remember, it’s purely a numbers game out there, and it can take a while to get your work into the right hands. Don’t let your inner owl get ruffled along the way – and don’t ever give up!
Blurb: What if we’re all monsters, on the inside?
Chloe was once a normal girl. Until the night of the car crash that nearly claimed her life. Now Chloe’s mother is dead, her father is a shell of the man he used to be and the secrets that had so carefully kept their family together are falling apart.
A new start is all Chloe and her father can hope for, but when you think you’re no longer human how can you ever start pretending?
A contemporary reworking of a British horror classic, Under My Skin follows seventeen-year-old Chloe into an isolated world of darkness and pain, as she struggles to understand what it really means to be alive.
Set against the familiar backdrop of everyday, normal teenage worries, Chloe’s world has become anything but…
Zoë writes Young Adult fiction, blending dark twistiness with urban Britishness to produce unique, unsettling tales.
A full-time editor by day, Zoë writes by night, fueled by endless mugs of tea and an increasingly blurred distinction between fantasy & reality.
Zoë lives in the wilds of West Oxfordshire with her husband, son, and the obligatory two cats.
Giveaway: £25 Amazon Giftcard
On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska. Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby’s father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for approving me
I have never read any of Luptons books before, but I keep hearing so many good things about her books, so I wanted to like this book so very much. But to be honest I was left disappointed. I found some of the plot so unrealistic and found my self going ”what”!! I found myself so tempted to start skimming pages because I started to get bored.
Ten year old Ruby one of the protagonists was deaf I found this aspect of the book really engaging and interesting to read, as I have never read any books with a deaf protagonist.
Clearly Lupton has done her research and I did find the bits describing Alaska fascinating and the names of places were very familiar from Ice Road Truckers and I could quite easily work out where they were.
I still would like to read other work by this author before making a decision on whether I like her style of writing
2 of 5 stars