chick-lit · Content posts · romance

*BLOG TOUR* Coming Home to Hope Street – Marcie Steele (EXTRACT)

Blurb;

Step across the cobblestones, pull back the curtains and peek behind the doors in the second instalment of The Hope Street Series. Catch up with old friends and fall in love with new ones in a story of friendship, second chances and new beginnings.

Livvy has no choice but to return to Hope Street, the childhood home she left over twenty years ago. Along with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Pip, she turns up on the doorstep, hoping for forgiveness from her sister.

Hannah thought she’d never see Livvy again. She’s overwhelmed with emotion but locks away her real feelings. How could Livvy stay away without any contact? And why has she come back now?

It isn’t long before the charm of the market town of Somerley begins to work its magic. Hannah is opening a book shop in the square, adjoining The Coffee Stop, and Livvy’s offer to help out brings the sisters closer together.

But when someone from Livvy’s past arrives unannounced too, he threatens everything she’s built up since her return. Can Livvy convince her sister, and her new friends, that her intentions to return were good ones? Or will her dreams of settling down and being happy again become nothing but a closed book?

Author Bio;

Marcie Steele is the pen name of Mel Sherratt. For as long as she can remember, she’s been a meddler of words. Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, she’s a romantic at heart and has always enjoyed writing about characters that fall in and out of love, have good friends to hang around with, and live in communities with great spirit.

She can often be found sitting in her favourite coffee shop, sipping a cappuccino and eating a chocolate chip cookie, either catching up with friends or writing on her laptop. Whether she writes crime or women’s fiction, she loves making up things for a living.

You can find more about Marcie Steele on Mel Sherratt’s website www.melsherratt.co.uk at Twitter: https://twitter.com/writermels and at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MelSherrattauthor/

Extract;

One Month Ago

Livvy Perkins let out a dramatic sigh. Working at Pizza Palace wasn’t the jazziest of jobs, but it was a good fit for her circumstances. She’d worked there three nights a week between six and ten p.m. for the past six months, as well as working part-time during the day in a local café. It meant her daughter, Pip, nearly sixteen, wasn’t alone often, and not for too long. And if she did need her mum, Livvy was always on the end of the phone.

Livvy looked forward to, as well as dreaded, her last shift of the week. Fridays would always find the staff in the takeaway rushed off their feet, orders coming in rapidly and Roberto, the owner, expecting her to deliver everything on a Fast and Furious basis that she could never do to his satisfaction.

Pizza deliveries seemed to have become the new going out. Not that Livvy knew anything about that anymore. All her days, weeks, and months were rolling into one at the moment.

She pressed the handle down on the door and went inside, the smell of grease, garlic, and a hint of burning hitting her immediately. Pizza Palace was your typical takeaway, a few plastic tables and school-type chairs at the front and a high counter with a fridge showing drinks and salads to accompany the meal at the far end. A large board on the back wall listed everything they served, and the ovens to her right were already churning out a good heat alongside the first orders of the evening. Above everything, she could hear Roberto yelling.

‘They asked for two medium cheese and pepperoni and one large mushroom. Not the other way round. You need to listen more on the phone!’ He turned to Livvy, rolling his eyes as if to say, ‘I might as well do it myself.’

She couldn’t help but shake her head in jest. Honestly, if Roberto employed a manager rather than trying to do everything himself, and failing dismally, he wouldn’t look like a stress ball all the time. Now his arms flapped around, his dark hair was messy and there were sweat patches underneath both arms on his T-shirt.

‘Livvy,’ Roberto cried. ‘Come and sort this rabble out, will you?’

‘I’ll do my best once I’ve done a few deliveries.’ Livvy reached up for a pile of order slips. There were four, all within a mile of the shop. Quickly, she routed them out in her head. If she left now before Roberto collared her, she could be there and back within forty minutes.

A scooter was the best solution for the small and narrow streets of Manchester. Roberto provided them, but they were all old and decrepit.

The traffic was light as she made her way along the main road. Pizza Palace covered most of the area and had the monopoly on lots of other takeaways. Luckily for Roberto, his establishment had a reputation as one of the best.

Livvy parked outside the first address, knocked on the door, and only waited a few seconds for an answer. The next stop was a few streets away, and after pressing the doorbell twice, that too was delivered.

As she walked up the driveway of the third address, the door was opened by a woman in her thirties, heavily made-up, wearing heels and a black dress. Lucky her, Livvy sighed. She couldn’t even recall the last time she’d been anywhere that entailed dressing up so special.

‘Pizza delivery!’ Livvy put on her best sing-song voice.

‘That’s more than obvious,’ the woman snapped, almost snatching the box out of Livvy’s hand. She thrust a note at her and waited impatiently for change.

Livvy handed it to her, knowing it was useless making small talk.

She took it all and closed the door in Livvy’s face.

‘Thank you, and have a nice evening,’ Livvy replied, with the heaviest hint of sarcasm.

She was back on the scooter, helmet in hand, ready to head to the last stop when the woman came out of her house, screaming obscenities at her.

‘What is wrong with you people?’ She pushed the box at Livvy. ‘I ordered a plain cheese, but this has mushrooms.’

Livvy’s shoulders dropped. ‘I’m so sorry, let me check the other order to see if I’ve got them the wrong way round.’

‘I’m not giving my children anything that you’ve had your hands all over.’

‘I won’t have to touch it.’ Livvy couldn’t stop herself from answering back. ‘I just need—’

‘Save it.’ The woman put up a hand as if to dismiss her, then held it out. ‘Give me my money back. I’ll have to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven now, which means I’m going to be late. And it’s all your fault.’

‘Chicken nuggets. My favourite,’ Livvy enthused. But the woman wasn’t having any of it.

Her fingers curled greedily around the money Livvy gave back to her and then, turning on her pretty stiletto heels, she marched off.

Livvy could see from the state of the box that the pizza had been handled and shoved back in. Even if it was someone else’s order, it would have to be remade.

She tried to start the scooter up, but it wouldn’t kick in.

‘Useless thing,’ she protested, just as the woman from the house came out again and got into her car. She glared at Livvy as she reversed out and then was off in a screech.

Livvy looked at the woman’s house, her car, and had a guess at her lavish style. She reckoned she’d never had to work hard to make ends meet. And even then, she didn’t need to be that rude.

A tear rolled down her cheek, quickly followed by one on the other side of her face. She wiped at her eyes.

With resignation, she rang Roberto to tell him she wasn’t going to make order number four and the fate of order number three. Then she took a handlebar in each hand and began the mile-long walk back to the shop with the scooter.

Why was life so unfair? She was working two jobs but was in debt up to her ears, yet she grafted as hard as she could.

Bloody Kieran. This was all his fault.

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chick-lit · Christmas · romance

*BLOG TOUR* One Winters Night – Kiley Dunbar (EXTRACT)

Blurb; A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.

When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?

A romantic, funny and feelgood read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

About the author;


Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

Extract;

The autumn came in quickly this year. Even in early October the leaves of the rowan trees in Kelsey’s shared gardens at St Ninian’s Close are tinged golden brown. Gritty breezes gust down Henley Street, whipping past the house where, once upon a time, William Shakespeare was born. Chill morning dews make the grassy banks of the River Avon sparkle, and dawn mists settle over the subtle valley that the town nestles inside. Above its tangle of medieval streets, church spires, theatre turrets and flying flags, up on the gentle rises of the Welcombe hills the brambles have swollen fat and blushing on thorny boughs and the blackbirds sing out that summer is over.
Having worked as a tour guide, pounding the streets of Stratford all summer long and getting to know its most beautiful treasures and best-kept secrets, Kelsey thought she had discovered everything there was to know about her new home, but as she observed autumn creeping in, she came to the realisation that fall in Warwickshire was even finer than the summer months.
Fall. That’s what Jonathan calls this time of year. But he isn’t here to see it with her. He’s been wowing the crowds at an Ontario Shakespeare festival with his Hamlet and after Christmas he’ll be heading to California to take up his drama teaching residency for the winter. But he writes, and he video calls…
‘Don’t wake up, I’m just taking my stage make-up off before bed and calling to say goodnight. I love you, Kelsey.’
‘Don’t go, I’m awake. Wow, you look good.’
Jonathan held the phone closer to his face, letting Kelsey see the subtle black eyeliner that deepened his ice-blue eyes and his messy brown hair lightened a little with dye for playing the Prince of Denmark.
‘I was gonna say the same thing about you. Is it after six in Stratford?’
‘Uh-huh, but old habits die hard, I’ve been up for a while. There was a blackbird going crazy under the oak tree at six, so I’m already on my first coffee, just listening to him sing. How’s the run going?’ Kelsey gathered her duvet around her for warmth. Her little garret room at the top of the building which had been so warm in the summer was growing chillier by the day.
‘Pretty good. Full houses, excited crowds. They’re a lot more vocal than the Stratford audiences. I forgot about the spontaneous applause and the interaction. You don’t get that with English theatre. Tonight the first row were whooping and hollering when I kissed Ophelia, kinda threw us both.’
‘I can see how that would be distracting. How is Peony? Did she get the postcard I sent her?’ Kelsey asked. The confusion of the summer months when she’d been convinced Jonathan and his co-star and childhood sweetheart were still an item, had been left far behind.
‘She did, and she’s good too, sends her love. She’s kinda pissed I’m leaving the company after our Stratford run of Love’s Labour’s Lost in the spring but she gets that I’m ready for a new beginning. Anyways, I’m counting down the days ’til I fly home to you for the holidays.’
Kelsey had never heard Jonathan call Stratford ‘home’ before, and although it sent a thrill through her, she worried he was counting his work-visa chickens before they hatched. He was allowed to stay in England for the spring run but after that, nobody could know what would happen.
‘What’s today? Ninth of October?’ he added. ‘That’s only… seventy-five days.’
‘Only?’
‘I’ll be home soon and we’ll get to spend a few days of the holidays together. Until then I’ll just have to make sure I catch every English sunrise with you.’
Kelsey smiled, listening to his breathing and enjoying the flex of his dimpled jaw when he grinned. For a while they let the silence speak between them. They could do this, she had found; just say nothing and be together, feeling somewhere close to contented, three and a half thousand miles apart.
‘I’ve been thinking about you a lot,’ Jonathan said eventually, his deep Oklahoma drawl crackling.
‘You have?’
She saw the light blazing in Jonathan’s eyes as he carried the phone over to his hotel room door, turning the lock. ‘Uh-huh.’
‘What have you been thinking?’
Jonathan made a low laugh which was followed by a moment of hesitation before he settled on his bed, holding the phone at arm’s length so Kelsey could see his loose black stage shirt open at the neck and offering a glimpse of the broad, honed torso she missed touching so much. ‘I’ll tell you… if you lie down with me.’
Kelsey cast a quick glance at the pillows behind her, her face flushing pink and her pupils dilating in the way that made Jonathan’s heart pound.
‘All right then,’ she said, as she settled back, blushing and grinning at the same time.
‘First of all…’ his voice was low as he looked confidently into the lens. ‘I miss being able to kiss you whenever I want…’
Kelsey fought to catch her breath, narrowing her eyes, intently watching as Jonathan slowly tugged the shirt over his head, letting it muss his hair.
Jonathan talked with increasingly shallow breaths and Kelsey listened, losing her inhibition as the bubble formed around them. They forgot the miles between them; their separate time zones realigned and whole continents moved to bring them closer together. Yes, this felt somewhere close to contentment, and for now that would have to be enough for both of them.

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chick-lit · Christmas · romance

*BLOG TOUR* Christmas at Lock Keepers Cottage – Lucy Coleman ★★★★

Blurb; Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina.

Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in.

When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.

But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?

My Review; My first Christmas book of 2020. Christmas in July (that’s when I read it)! It took me a few chapters to get into it but once I was I didn’t want to put it down. It has the cutest little town with a canal. A beautiful community which comes together in hard times and its Christmas! What could be better?
The perfect festive read with a beautiful ending. The perfect Christmas celebrated with friends and family. It comes with a few ups and downs as expected but it all turned out okay. Felt a little wierd to be reading a festive book in July but it cheered me up and I’ve already started my Christmas shopping. A lovely read.

A well deserved four stars. Highly recommend. Maybe nearer Christmas though.

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