Blog Tour: Games People Play by Owen Mullen.

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Today is the final stop on the blog tour for Games People Play by Owen Mullen. I have content from the book and my extract carries on from where Emma The Little Bookworm left off.

Extract:

‘The water was freezing. What the hell had Jen been thinking? This was Scotland, for Christ’s sake. He swam to where he’d last seen her and went under. Mark was a good swimmer but it was dark. His frantic fingers searched until the pressure in his chest forced him to the surface. He took in as much air as he could and went back. Something bumped against him. He grabbed hold and dragged it up. Two boys ran into the water to help: the footballers.

They hauled her body the last few yards and Mark fell to his knees. Jennifer wasn’t breathing. People appeared on the beach, silent witnesses to the nightmare the day had become. Where had they been when he needed them? He shouted, half in anger half in desperation. ‘Somebody call an ambulance!’ The crowd kept a respectful distance, they believed what he believed, that he’d lost her. Jennifer’s face was white. Mark covered her mouth with his and breathed into her. His hands pressed against her chest demanding she come back to him. One of the boys took over with no better luck. Mark tried again, refusing to let her go. He pumped her heart, whimpering like a child, sobbing for himself as well as his wife. Jennifer’s eyes fluttered; she retched and vomited water. Mark turned her on her side and rubbed her back, whispering reassurance, blinded by tears, aware his prayers had been answered. A siren sounded in the distance; it was going to be alright. She was safe. They would be together again. The three of them. He raised his head and saw ambulance-men racing towards him across the sand. Mark jumped to his feet. They must have drifted… except the boat was there. His voice rose from a cry to a scream. ‘Lily. Lily!’ He spoke to the group who had offered nothing. ‘I left a baby here, somebody must’ve seen her.’ They stared, no idea what he was talking about. A new terror seized him. He ran a few steps up and down the beach, lost and afraid. The bag lay where Jennifer dropped it. But no push-chair. No sign his daughter had ever been there. Lily was gone.’

Sounds good doesn’t it?!! Games People Play by Owen Mullen is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blurb:

A powerful new crime thriller:

Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved In the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go. His demons won’t let him.

 

Blog Tour: Review, Giveaway & Extract, Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley.

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Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley.

My 4* review:
I need to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I decided that I would read Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes. I don’t ‘do’ chick lit. If I’m honest I’m probably a little bit snobbish about it.
So I started the book with rather low expectations. But I do not mind admitting that I was wrong, very wrong. I really, really enjoyed reading Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes, the characters were interesting and believable. I often thought that the outcome was very obvious, but it wasn’t! The author kept me on my toes just enough, while weaving a lovely story. It made a nice change from the crime and thriller books that I normally read, and probably quite a healthy change at that.
While Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes was a nice, easy read, I did not want it to finish. When I did I saw that there was a sequel. Yay, I was so going to read that. And then I saw that there are, in fact, six books in the series! I hope to make my way through all of them over time.
I really liked the Lake District setting, and although I’m typically very Bah Humbug until about a week before Christmas the Christmas setting didn’t put me off, it didn’t play a huge part in the story.
If you like chick lit then read this. If you don’t normally read chick lit but think that a change of genre would be good, then read this. It’s good!!
Chapter One.
“Have you checked in yet, Millie?”
“Yes, Nicole, I have! Don’t panic. I told you I’d make an extra special effort to arrive in
plenty of time, didn’t I? I’m relaxing in the Departure Lounge with a caffè latte and the latest
edition of Voici, soaking up the last rays of sunshine I’ll see for the next two weeks.”
She had no intention of admitting to her super-organised sister that Monique and Hélène
had insisted on collecting her from her bedsit above Brasserie Étienne, then driven her at
stomach-wrenching speed to Nice airport and marched her, still stuffing her passport into her
hand luggage, to the check-in desk. They’d even had the audacity to hang around whilst she
wound her way through security just to make absolutely sure she didn’t meet with some
diversion and miss her flight – not an unknown, or indeed infrequent, occurrence.
“Typical. Just this once I hoped you’d stuck to your usual schedule of taking every
deadline to the wire!”
Millie detected a note of anxiety rather than impatience in Nicole’s voice. “Why? What’s
wrong?”
“I’m so sorry, Millie. It’s Édouard’s father. He’s had a stroke – been rushed into hospital in
Paris. His mother’s frantic – not sure whether he’ll survive the night.” Millie heard her
younger sister gulp down her emotions. “We’re dashing across to France as we speak. As it’s
the last weekend before Christmas it’s an absolute nightmare. St Pancras is in the throes of a
pre-Christmas exodus. We just managed to grab the last five seats on the Eurostar.”
“Oh, Nicole, no. Poor Édouard. Is there anything I can do?”
“Well, that’s why I’m calling. Obviously it means you can’t spend Christmas with us in
Norfolk now. I’m so sorry, Millie. I had everything planned. The girls were more than excited
about spending some alone time with their Auntie Camille this weekend whilst I was in the
Lakes and then having you stay on for the holidays. You’re still welcome to stay at our house,
of course.”
“Thanks, Nic, but it won’t be the same without its riotous rabble of occupants.”
“You could always go back home to Lourmarin? Spend Christmas with François?”
“Ah, no I can’t. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get away. I wasn’t going to tell you, especially
now. I don’t want to add to your burden, but it’s over between me and François. He dumped
me. Scooted off to Paris. He’s even closed the restaurant for the duration of the holidays. First
time ever!”
A slice of pain scorched through her throat but Millie ignored it. Now that she’d broken
the news she needed to get the whole story out into the open. “Monique told me he’s gone
with Heidi. I’m sorry, Nic, you’ve got enough deal with. Look, don’t worry about me. Send
my love to Édouard’s parents. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to spend some time mooching
round the shops in London.”
“So, if you’re sure you still want to come over…”
“What? Is there something else you’re not telling me?”
“Well, you know how grateful I was when you agreed to look after the girls whilst I
tutored the Christmas cookery school for Anne?”
Millie softened her voice. She adored her three nieces. “Nic, really, it’s no hardship. I love
being cast in the role of beloved aunt. Never mind, I’ll just catch an earlier flight back to
Nice.”
“Could I ask a favour, then?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I’ve just spoken to Anne. She might be a seasoned expert in presenting summer culinary
courses at her manor house in the Lake District, but this weekend was to be her first venture
into corporate Christmas culinary schools. She was relying on me. Of course she’s
sympathetic and totally understands, but she’s over at her villa in St. Lucia for the holidays so
she can’t step into the breach. I feel dreadful about leaving her in the lurch at such short
notice. And I’m worried she’ll be reticent about trusting me again. It’s a fabulous opportunity
to be invited to deliver an Anne Grainger course – and at the luxurious Craiglea Manor House
to boot. You know how keen I am to get into tutoring. I really don’t want to go back to being
a full-time food tech teacher when Daisy starts school. But maybe it’s a solution?”

“What’s a solution? Oh no, hang on…”

Giveaway:

So if my review and the first Chapter have made you want to read Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes then you can enter the giveaway! But only if you live in the UK.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057101/?

Blurb:

When all-round buttercream princess, Millie Carter, becomes stranded at Craiglea Manor Cookery School, she believes her chance of enjoying a merry festive season is over.

The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it – she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals. 

She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hypothermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean. 

Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles? 

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough. 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio

Lindsey Paley is a Yorkshire girl and author of contemporary romance novels with page-turning plotlines and satisfying endings. When not scribbling away in her peppermint and cream writer’s retreat (shed) she loves baking cakes, enjoying a spot of afternoon tea with friends and taking long walks in the countryside. Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is the first book in the Camille Carter series set in the beautiful Lake District and the Caribbean. The latest in the series is April Showers and Wedding Flowers and is out now.

Author Links:

Facebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French.

I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency. I mean have you ever heard a better name for a book?! I’ve heard lots of talk about it too and how funny it is so it’s great that If Only I Could Read Faster can give you the first chapter to read before you click to buy it!

Blurb:

An absolutely hilarious, totally entertaining, spookily sexy read that you won’t be able to put down!

Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? 
Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things havegot to change. 

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat. 

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job… 

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night. 

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency

Chapter One

‘So, what do you do with your spare time, Melody?’

I look my date square in his pretty brown eyes and lie to him. ‘Oh, you know. The usual.’ I shrug to convey how incredibly normal I am. ‘I read a lot . . . Go to the movies. That kind of thing.’

I watch Lenny digest my words, and breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes brighten.

‘Which genre?’

‘Movies or books?’ I ask, stalling for time because, in truth, I don’t get much in the way of spare time to do either.

‘Movies. Action or romance? No, let me guess.’ He narrows his eyes and studies me intently. ‘You look like a sucker for a rom-com.’

‘Do I?’ I’m genuinely surprised. I’m five foot three and look more like Wednesday Addams than a Disney princess. Maybe Wednesday Addams is over-egging it, but you get the idea; I’m brunette and my dress sense errs on the side of edgy. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me and thought whimsy. Maybe Lenny sees something everyone else has missed, me included. I quite like that idea, mainly because everyone who knows my family has a head full of preconceptions about me, based on the fact that my family are all crackers.

Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.

I nod, not mentioning that the only part of that particular movie I enjoyed was the funeral.

The Holiday?’

Again, I try to look interested and hold my tongue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than ever watch an over-optimistic Kate Winslet drag some old guy around a swimming pool again.

I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.

Lenny pulls his dull, salesman’s saloon into the cobbled cartway beside my building and kills the engine. I don’t mind dull. In fact, my life could really use a bit of dull right now, so I shoot him my most seductive smile, cross my fingers that my mother will be in bed, and invite him in for coffee.

Oh, just when it had all been going so well. Why couldn’t I have just given him a goodnight kiss, with maybe the smallest hint of tongue as a promise, then sent him on his way? He’d have called for a second date, I’m sure of it.

But no. I got greedy, pulled him by the hand through the dark back door, placing my finger against my lips to signal he should be quiet as we tip-toed past my mother’s apartment and up the old wooden staircase to my place.

He rests his hand on my waist as I turn the key, and a small thrill shoots down my back. Look at me, winning at this being-an-adult thing today! Dinner with an attractive man, sparkling conversation, and now back to mine for coffee . . . and maybe even a little fooling around. It’s not that I’m a virgin or anything, but it would be fair to call my love life patchy of late. By ‘of late’ I mean the last two years, ever since Leo Dark and I called things off. Well, by Leo and I, I mean Leo called things off, citing conflict of interests. Ha. Given that he was referring to the fact that my mad-as-a-bag-of-cats family are the only other psychics in town besides him, he was, at least in part, right.

But enough of Leo and my lamentable love life. Right now, all I want is for Lenny not to know anything at all about my peculiar family, to keep seeing me as a cool, regular, completely normal girl, and then to kiss me.

‘You remind me of Clara Oswald,’ Lenny whispers behind me at the top of the stairs. ‘All big brown eyes and clever one-liners. It’s very sexy.’

Lord, I think he’s just brushed a kiss against the back of my neck! My door sticks sometimes so I shoulder it open, aiming for firm and graceful but, I fear, ending up looking more like a burly police SWAT guy ramming it down. Thankfully, Lenny seems to take it in his stride and follows me into my apartment. Then I flick on the table lamp only to discover that my mother is standing on my coffee table in a too-short, too-sheer, baby-blue negligee with her arms raised towards the ceiling and her head thrown back.

‘Shit!’ Lenny swears down my ear, clearly startled. He isn’t to blame. My mother’s a striking woman, ballerina-tall and slender with silver hair that falls in waves well beyond her shoulder blades. It isn’t grey. It’s been pure silver since the day she was born, and right now she looks as if she’s just been freshly crucified on my coffee table.

I sigh as I drop my bag down by the lamp. So much for me being normal.

‘Err, mother?’

Slowly, she takes several heaving breaths and opens her eyes, changing from crazy lady to almost normal human lady. She stares at us.

‘For God’s sake, Melody,’ she grumbles, taking her hands from above her head and planting them on her hips. ‘I almost had the connection then. He’s hiding out in the loft, I’m sure of it.’

I risk a glance over my shoulder at Lenny, who sure isn’t kissing my neck anymore.

He lifts his eyebrows at me, a silent ‘what the hell?’ and then looks away when my mother beckons to him like a siren luring a fisherman onto the rocks.

‘Your hand, please, young man.’

‘No!’ I almost yell, but Lenny is already across the room with his hand out to help her down. My mother eyes me slyly as she steps from the table, keeping a firm hold of Lenny’s hand.

‘Long lifeline,’ she murmurs, tracing her red talon across Lenny’s palm.

‘Mother,’ I warn, but my somber, cautionary tone falls on her selectively deaf ears. I expected nothing else, because she’s pulled this trick before. Admittedly, the standing-on-the-table thing is a new twist, but she’s got form in scoping out my prospective boyfriends to make sure they’ll fit in with our screwball family from the outset. Not that her romantic gauge is something to put any stock in; Leo passed her tests with flying colours and look how that ended up. I got my heart broken and he got a spot on morning TV as the resident psychic. Where’s the justice in that?

Look, we may as well get the clanky old skeleton out of the family closet early on here, people. It’s going to come out sooner or later, and despite my attempts to pull the wool over Lenny’s eyes, there’s never any running away from this thing for long.

My name’s Melody Bittersweet, and I see dead people.

It’s not only me. I’m just the latest in a long line of Bittersweets to have the gift, or the curse, depending on how you look at it. My family has long since celebrated our weirdness; hence the well-established presence of our family business, Blithe Spirits, on Chapelwick High Street. We’ve likely been here longer than the actual chapel at the far end of the street. That’s probably why, by and large, we’re accepted by the residents of the town, in a ‘they’re a bunch of eccentrics, but they’re our bunch of eccentrics,’ kind of way. What began as a tiny, mullion-windowed, one-room shop has spread out along the entire row over the last two hundred years; we now own a run of three terraced properties haphazardly knocked into one, big, rambling place that is both business and home to not only me, but also to my mother, Silvana, and her mother, Dicey. Gran’s name isn’t actually Dicey, it’s Paradise, officially, but she’s gone by Dicey ever since she met my Grandpa Duke on her fifteenth birthday and he wrote Dicey and Duke inside a chalk heart on the back wall of the building. He may as well have written it on her own racing heart.

‘Silvana!’

Speak of the devil. Does no one go to bed around here?

I open my door to find Gran on the threshold with her hand raised, poised to knock. I guess I should be glad she’s slightly more respectably dressed, if a floor-length, purple shot-silk kimono, bearing huge technicolor dragons could be considered as such. Her usually pin-curled gold hair is piled elegantly on her head and she wears a slash of fire-engine-scarlet lipstick for good measure. Most people couldn’t carry the look off, but thanks to her poise, confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude, Grandma Dicey wears it with artful success. She glides past me without invitation and gazes at my mother and Lenny, who are still hand-in-hand on the rug.

God.

First thing tomorrow morning, I swear, I’m going to look for a new place to live, somewhere, anywhere, that is not in the same building as my mother and my gran. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming old place and I love my family dearly. It’s not even as if I don’t have my own space here, because, theoretically at least, I do. Mum and Gran have the ground floor apartment behind Blithe Spirits, and I have the smaller flat upstairs, at the back. In lots of ways this makes me fortunate; I get to have a nice little home of my own and stay close to my family. It would all be fine and dandy, were it not for the fact that my family are officially bonkers and liable to come up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out of me.

‘Why is Silvana entertaining a man half her age in your flat?’ Gran looks from me to my mother. ‘You should have said you were expecting company, darling. I’d have gone out.’ She touches her hand lightly against her hair. ‘Put a towel on the doorknob or something, isn’t that the modern way to signal these things? Don’t come a knockin’ if the caravan’s rockin’?’

She looks spectacularly pleased with herself, and one glance at Lenny tells me that he knows he’s way out of his depth with these two and is in the process of writing me off as the worst date he’s ever had. His eyes slide from me to the door, and I can almost hear him begging me to let him go unharmed.

‘He’s not mum’s date, he’s mine. Or else, he was,’ I mutter, and then I’m distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and my grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste.

‘Finally,’ my mother spits, dropping Lenny’s hand so she can round on the new arrival. ‘Two hours I’ve been chasing you around this bloody building. Your wife wants to know what you’ve done with the housekeeping she’d hidden in the green teapot. She says you better not have lost it on the horses or she’s had it with you.’

Grandma Dicey rolls her eyes. ‘I rather think she’s had it with him anyway. He’s been dead for six weeks.’

‘You’re a fine one to talk, given that you still sleep with your husband twenty years after he died.’ Mother flicks her silver hair sharply. Touché.

Lenny whimpers and bolts for my front door, turning back to me just long enough to splutter ‘something’s come up, gotta go,’ before he hoofs it out and down the stairs two at a time.

I listen to the outside door bang on its hinges and wonder what came up. Probably his dinner.

Author bio:
 
Kitty French lives in the Black Country with her husband, two young sons and two crazy cats. She’s a lover of all things romantic – songs, music, and most of all, books. 
Her USA Today best-selling Lucien Knight series topped the erotic chart on both sides of the pond, and she also writes romantic comedy as Kat French for Avon, HarperCollins. She’s over the moon to join Bookouture with her brand new paranormal romantic comedy series, Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency.
 

Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French is out now and available from  Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blog Tour: Lovers and Liars by Nigel May

 

Today I can share with you an excerpt from Nigel May’s book Lovers and Liars, published by Bookouture.

LOVERS AND LIARS BY NIGEL MAY

Prologue

The paint on the domed ceiling of the Velvet hotel’s specially erected sports arena was barely dry before the boxing match was announced globally. Hatton Eden, reigning welterweight champion of the world, the man known to his legion of superfans worldwide as ‘TMM’ – The Main Man – was to take on newcomer Orlando Vince in what TV sports channels around the globe had dubbed the ‘Belter in the Swelter’ from the moment tickets for the 18,000-seater arena went on sale. The boxing world had lived through the legendary ‘Thrilla in Manila’ and been hypnotised by the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and now a new gladiatorial pairing was set to make sports history.

The Belter in the Swelter was the perfect title for the match which would take place at the famous Velvet hotel in Barbados, the island’s six-star celebrity haunt and the flagship of the lucrative worldwide chain of luxury hotels owned by Sheridan Rivers. Situated on the west side of the island, the hotel was a triumph of cool, with the Hollywood elite, fashionable rich-kid popstars and megabucks media moguls alike booking in to sample its many amenities and to feel their skin change colour as they lay on the powder-fine sands under the blistering heat of the Caribbean sky.

It was Sheridan who had fought to have the arena built at Velvet in the first place, determined to draw the boxing crowds away from Las Vegas and bring the sporting superstars of the world to the tropical jewel in his billion-dollar crown. And when Sheridan Rivers decided he wanted something, nothing or no one could stand in his way. The Brit businessman had not built his empire, now with twenty-plus hotels around the world in destinations ranging from Tokyo to Honolulu, by rolling over and submitting to money men who said no, planners who tried to wrap him in red tape or architects who said that something couldn’t be done. Everything was possible in Sheridan’s world so long as you didn’t have to listen to other people’s opinions and surrounded yourself with ‘yes’ people who would always loyally agree with everything you suggested.

And after months of hard work the night of the bout had finally arrived. Sheridan couldn’t have been happier as he watched the crowds starting to take their seats at the beginning of the evening. He was watching from the highest point of the arena, a gangway that ran around the top edge of the dome. It was the perfect vantage point from which to calculate how much money he would be making from the evening. He’d spent a lifetime looking down on others so why stop now? All 18,000 seats had been filled, with tickets ranging from $1,500 through to $7,500, and then there were the pay-per-view TV rewards to be considered. All in all, he’d make a tidy sum out of tonight’s proceedings, maybe enough to open another hotel, which considering everything that had happened in the run-up to fight night was pretty incredible. It had been quite some ride and he was glad that the night was finally underway.

He gazed down at Blair Lonergan, famed DJ and worldwide music star, the man spinning his musical web of wonder from a purpose-built stage on the far side of the arena. His latest chart-topping collaboration, a funky slab of dance-floor-filling beats mashed with vocals from some vacuous pop starlet of the moment, boomed out from a bank of speakers either side of the stage. New Yorker Blair was adored worldwide and even Sheridan had to admit that he could see why – even if he wasn’t his number-one fan. He was ridiculously handsome, his chiselled features giving him an almost action-hero quality. His blond buzz cut, streetwise air of cool and rock-hard abs had made him the poster boy of the DJ world and the face and body of countless fashion houses. He was Abercrombie & Fitch fit with a talent that had seen him bag DJ residences around the world, including a twelve-month run at a succession of Velvet hotels across the globe. He was the best and that’s why Sheridan had employed him, both for regular nights at his hotels and also to keep the party pumping before the evening’s main event.

‘Make the most of it though, you fucking upstart,’ sighed Sheridan as he watched. ‘Because this is it.’ A smile spread across his face, a grin of knowledge and power puffing out his chest as he spoke. Sheridan felt good – he always did when he was on top.

A female voice sounded beside him. ‘It’s time to get ready, sir. The fight starts in about an hour and a half and you need to be looking your best – the eyes of the world are upon you tonight. Not that you ever look anything less, of course.’

Sheridan turned to look. ‘Thank you, Kassidy. Is my suit ready for tonight?’

‘Yes, sir. Clean, pressed and set for wearing.’

‘And my diamond cufflinks are here?’

‘Two commissioned diamond boxing gloves arrived by courier from London this afternoon.’

‘Shoes polished?’

‘I had one of the bellhops shine them until he could see his face in them.’

‘My daughters?’

‘Nikki will be here despite everything. Have you two managed to—’

‘I’m not talking about that now.’ Sheridan’s words, brusque and sharp, cut Kassidy off in full flow. ‘What about Heather?’ Sadness washed over him as he asked.

‘Well, boxing’s not really her thing but she said she’d be here. I’ll check for you.’

‘And my wife?’

‘Mrs Rivers has booked herself into the hotel spa for a last-minute manicure and facial and says that she’ll see you at your seat for the fight.’

‘Typical Sutton,’ stated Sheridan. ‘So, we’ll be alone again in the penthouse then, Kassidy. Mind you, my wife’s not slept there for days anyway.’ He moved towards her and gave her backside a squeeze as he walked past. Not as firm as it used to be, he thought to himself. ‘Good, I’m thinking there might be some last-minute odd jobs that need doing.’ He gave his growing erection a squeeze too as he felt it through his linen trousers. ‘You reckon you can sort that for me, too?’

‘Of course, sir,’ smiled Kassidy. But it was a smile riddled with doubt. After ten years of being both Sheridan and Sutton Rivers’ personal assistant, a job she had started when she was just nineteen, Kassidy Orpin was more than a little over blowing the boss whenever he demanded. But as she trotted off behind him in the direction of his hotel penthouse she knew she’d be on her knees within a few minutes – it was what she did. If she wanted to get ahead and realise her ambitions then giving head was just one of the many things on her to-do list. It was how she’d secured the job in the first place. A willing mouth and no gag reflex could erase a CV stating that she left school at sixteen back in Dublin with no real qualifications, especially if your potential boss was a player who couldn’t keep his prick in his pants. And Sheridan Rivers had been good to her over the years, which is why she had loved him, both in and out of the bedroom. But only when he chose. And only when Sutton was not within nagging distance – and preferably in another time zone.

Lovers and Liars by Nigel May is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blog Tour: The Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

 

Today If Only I Could Read Faster is taking part in the blog tour for The Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant. It’s nice to have something bright and colourful on the blog for a change! I have yet to read the book but today I’m sharing the first chapter with you.

THE LITTLE VILLAGE BAKERY by TILLY TENNANT

CHAPTER ONE

On the hottest day of the year so far, the sprinklers on the green of the tiny village of Honeybourne made miniature rainbows in the shimmering air. Jasmine Green’s triplets, Rebecca, Rachel and Reuben, squealed as they raced backwards and forwards through the water, while Jasmine folded the last of the bunting from her stall of homemade crafts and furnishings.

‘It’s been a fabulous day for it,’ she commented cheerily to the vicar as he wandered over.

‘Certainly has,’ he agreed, looking round at the other stalls lined up around the perimeter of the green, their owners also packing away. ‘I love the fête, the one day of the summer when the whole village comes together to have fun.’

‘The children have certainly enjoyed it this year.’ She looked fondly over at her offspring, now soaked through but grinning all over their faces.

‘Some of the adults have had a good time too,’ he replied, angling his head to where Jasmine’s husband, Rich, was sitting on a deckchair looking distinctly sunburnt despite his dark hair and complexion, grinning drunkenly and staring into space.

She blew a ringlet the colour of candyfloss from her damp forehead and giggled. ‘I told him to be careful with Frank Stephenson’s scrumpy.’

‘Who’s got scrumpy?’ Rich asked, now squinting up at them.

‘No more for you today,’ Jasmine scolded, but only half-heartedly. He pouted like a little boy and she smiled indulgently. ‘If you can manage to walk in a straight line, how about you gather the kids up and help me get this stock back to the van?’ She folded her arms. ‘I suppose I’m driving home too as you’ve lost the ability to coordinate your limbs properly?’

He pushed himself up from the chair and made a move to take her into his arms. ‘Who can’t coordinate his limbs? You wait till later, my gorgeous little hippy chick,’ he said, wrapping her in his strong embrace. ‘I’ll show you how to coordinate limbs.’

Richard Green, the vicar is standing right there!’ Jasmine giggled.

‘Don’t mind me,’ the vicar said amiably, ‘I’ll just peruse the lovely items you have left on your stall here. Honestly, this metalwork is quite spectacular.’ He picked up a pendant and turned it over in his fingers. ‘You have lots of special things here, Mrs Green, but in the main a remarkable talent for making unusual jewellery.’

‘Take something home for Mrs Vicar,’ Rich said with a grin. ‘Pretty trinkets always work on the missus.’

‘Not when the missus has made them herself, they don’t,’ Jasmine said with a mock scowl.

‘Fair point.’ Rich hiccupped. He was a good foot taller than Jasmine and she had to stretch up to kiss him.

‘Go and get your children, there’s a good boy,’ she laughed.

He let go of her and staggered off. But when Jasmine looked up again, he was chasing the children through the sprinklers, making monster noises as he went, sending them scattering and squealing with delight. Some of the other villagers had joined in with their children. Jasmine stopped her packing for a moment and watched them all play their elaborate game.

‘You know, Vicar,’ she said in a voice full of lazy contentment, ‘I really don’t think there is a happier place to live on Earth than here.’

* * *

In her kitchen, a hundred miles to the north of where Jasmine Green was ushering her reluctant family into a van, Millicent Hopkin – Millie to the handful of people who dared get close enough – was sobbing. It felt like she did little else these days, though she was always careful to save it for when she was alone. Some would take great satisfaction in her pain. She probably deserved it, but that still didn’t give anyone the right to victimise her.

The car had been the last straw. She’d spent the last three hours trying to scrub away the vile words. Whoever wrote the old rhyme about sticks and stones was wrong. The smashed windows, the faeces shoved through her letterbox, the mysterious taxis and pizza deliveries in the early hours that she had ended up having to pay for when they insisted she’d ordered them – she’d borne it all with a quiet fortitude. But the words… Words had magic, they had power – the power to heal, to hurt, to make things happen, and the ones she’d failed to

remove from her car, even though she’d rubbed and rubbed until her hands were raw, had hurt her as much as any stick or stone could. She’d had enough.

Drying her tears, she tried to concentrate on the task in front of her. The only constant in her life now was her creativity, and baking was the one creative thing she could still do that brought pleasure to others. Although these days she didn’t know who she could share this one with when the people she had once called friends had all turned against her. She had tried to be a good person, to set things right, but in the end it had meant nothing. Turning her attention to the mixing bowl in front of her, she added ingredients to the mix – cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla, a pound of dried fruit, a sprinkle of heartsease, her unintentional tears – and thought about how she needed a new start, somewhere far away where people didn’t know her. Somewhere people wouldn’t judge her or hurt her or blame her for everything that had gone before.

She focused on the thought, on the photo of a tumbledown old building on a property website that had captured her imagination, four walls in an adorably named village that might just be the new start she’d been searching for. She closed her eyes, pictured the bakery – her bakery – and tried to imagine the sweet smells, the bright colours of the cakes, the chatter of customers, opening the shutters on every new day and welcoming it in; she tried to remember what happiness felt like, how

it was to want to live. She longed for it with every fibre of her being. In less than a week, if the universe was finally smiling on her, maybe she would find out.

When the mix was done, she poured it into a tin and whispered a last wish before she put it into the oven. She needed a new start. Perhaps the cake would make it so.

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Tilly Tennant

The Little Village Bakery is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US.