#BlogTour – The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins – Guestpost and #Giveaway

I’m absolutely thrilled to be kicking of the blog tour today for Roz Watkins new crime debut, The Devil’s Dice! The first book in the DI Meg Dalton series, this is a gripping and atmospheric thriller you won’t want to miss! One of the most striking things I found about this book was the Peak District setting and I’m delighted to welcome Roz Watkins to Cosy Books today to tell us just why she chose it.

Detective Inspector Meg Dalton has recently returned to her Peak District roots, when a man’s body is found near The Devil’s Dice – a vast network of caves and well-known local suicide spot. The man’s initials and a figure of the Grim Reaper are carved into the cave wall behind his corpse, but bizarrely, the carvings have existed for over one hundred years.

The locals talk about a mysterious family curse that started in the times of the witch trials, and Meg finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust. Even her own mother may be implicated.

For Meg, the case is a chance to prove herself in a police force dominated by men, one of whom knows a lot more about her past than she’d like, and is convinced she’s not fit for the role. In a race against time, Meg finds her own life at risk as she fights to stop the murderer from killing again.

Published March 8th 2018 by HQStories

Roz Watkins is the author of the DI Meg Dalton crime series, which is set in the Peak District where Roz lives with her partner and a menagerie of demanding animals.

Her first book, The Devil’s Dice, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, and has been optioned for TV.

Roz studied engineering at Cambridge University before training in patent law. She was a partner in a firm of patent attorneys in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first novel.

In her spare time, Roz likes to walk in the Peak District, scouting out murder locations.

Why I chose to set ‘The Devil’s Dice’ in the Peak District  

The original reason was my dog and his foul habits. I live on the edge of the Peak District, which my dog approves of because of the excellent walking. We were out one day when he disappeared. This is always a bad sign as it means he’s:

a) Found a group of picnickers and decided to invite himself along;

b) Found a stinking foetid pit in which to take a bath;

c) Found a decomposing rabbit, sheep, or on one horrible occasion cow, to devour.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched him emerge from the undergrowth looking very pleased with himself, with something dangling from his mouth, swinging pendulously with every bounding step. I caught my breath and took a step back, because (to my brain at least) it looked just like a human spine.  

As he got closer, I realised it was a hare, but it got me wondering what it might be like to come upon a human corpse when on a dog walk. And that’s what happens in ‘The Devil’s Dice’. A man dies in a cave and is found by a Labrador.  

Here’s Starsky, very proud of himself!  

I soon realised that The Peak District is a perfect location for crime novels. It has underground passageways, cliffs, quarries, and pools where evil mermaids are supposed to lurk. It also has some lovely towns, and I used Wirksworth as the inspiration for my fictional town, Eldercliffe. Wirksworth has an incredible area called The Puzzle Gardens where a jumble of tiny cottages and random gardens perch on a hillside so steep it feels like you can step out of one cottage onto the roof of another.  

There are also miles of tunnels running underground in the area of the Peak District where I live. Being trapped underground with water rising around me is one of my worst nightmares, so it seemed natural to inflict this on my poor, long-suffering character in my fist book. I invented a network of tunnels called The Labyrinth, but it was based on real cave systems like the ones at The Heights of Abraham and Castleton.  

I gave my main character a fear of heights so I could torture her some more by making the victim live in a house perched on the edge of a quarry. This was based on the quarry at Wirksworth, where the houses almost teeter on its edge.  

This Peak District is also rich with folk tales and legends. I tend to make up my own stories to fit with the themes of the books, and in the first book, suspected witches were historically taken into the Labyrinth to be hanged. But my ideas are often inspired by real local folk tales which are usually quite gruesome.  

Friends think it’s strange (and a little worrying) that the beauty of the Peak District gets me thinking about murder, but my excuse is that it all started with the dog.  

Win!!!

Thanks to the very generous people at HQ Stories I Have THREE hardback copies of The Devil’s Dice to giveaway. Simply pop over to follow my twitter account @Vicki_cosybooks and Re-tweet my pinned post. U.K. Only I’m afraid. Ends Midnight 22nd March 2018 .

#BlogTour – The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare – Extract and #Giveaway (@MillsandBoon)

I’m thrilled to be hosting the stop on The Duchess Deal blog tour today with an extract and a chance for one lucky person to win their very own copy of this gorgeous looking book!

THE DUCHESS DEAL is a perfect witty, sassy Regency Romance from the internationally bestselling author, Tessa Dare, with a definite hint of Beauty and the Beast. The book debuted at #6 on the New York Times bestseller list when the book released in the US earlier this month.

So what’s it about? 

the duchess deal‘I am a Duke. I’m not asking you to marry me. I am offering to marry you. It’s a different thing entirely.’

When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars. 
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has secrets and some rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

When a girl meets a Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules… 

Published 22nd February 2018 by Mills and Boon (UK) 

Like the sound of this? Here’s an extract to give you a little taster of the book! 

A duchess? 

Well. Emma was grateful for one thing. At least now she had an excuse to stare at him. Ever since the duke had revealed the extent of his scars, she’d been trying not to stare at him. Then she’d started worrying that it would be even more rude to avoid looking at him. As a result, her gaze had been volleying from his face, to the carpet, to the coins on the desk. It was all a bit dizzying. 

Now she had an unassailable excuse to openly gawk. 

The contrast was extreme. The injured side of his face drew her attention first, of course. Its appearance was tortured and angry, with webs of scar tissue twisting past his ear and above his natural hairline. What was more cruel—his scarred flesh stood in unavoidable contrast with his untouched profile. There, he was handsome in the brash, uncompromising way of gentlemen who believed themselves invincible. 

Emma didn’t find his appearance frightful, though she could not deny it was startling. No, she decided, “startling” wasn’t the right word.  

Striking. 

He was striking. 

As though a bolt of lightning had split through his body, dividing him in two, and the energy still crackled around him. Emma sensed it from across the room. Gooseflesh rippled up her arms. 

“I beg your pardon, Your Grace. I must have misheard.” 

“I said I will make you a duchess.” 

“Surely . . . surely you don’t mean through marriage.” 

“No, I intend to use my vast influence in the House of Lords to overturn the laws of primogeniture, then persuade the Prince Regent to create a new title and duchy. That accomplished, I will convince him to name a vicar’s daughter from Hertfordshire a duchess in her own right. Of course I mean through marriage, Miss Gladstone.” 

She gave a strained laugh. Laughter seemed the only possible response. He had to be joking. 

“You can’t be asking me to marry you.” He sighed with annoyance. “I am a duke. I’m not asking you to marry me. I am offering to marry you. It’s a different thing entirely.” 

She opened her mouth, only to close it again. 

“I need an heir,” he said. “That is the thrust of the matter.” 

Her concentration snagged on that word, and the blunt, forceful way he said it. 

Thrust. 

“If I died tomorrow, everything would go to my cousin. He is an irredeemable prat. I didn’t go to the Continent, fight to preserve England from tyranny, and survive this”—he gestured at his face—“only to come home and watch my tenants’ lives crumble to ruins. And that means those laws of primogeniture—since I don’t intend to overturn them—require me to marry and sire a son.” 

He crossed the room, advancing toward her in unhurried strides. She stood in place, unwilling to shrink from him. The more nonchalant his demeanor, the more her pulse pounded. His face might be striking, but the rest of him . . . ? 

Rather splendid. 

To distract herself, Emma focused on her own realm of expertise: attire. The tailoring of his coat was immaculate, skimming the breadth of his shoulders and hugging the contours of his arms. The wool was of the finest quality, tightly woven and richly dyed. However, the style was two years behind the current fashion, and the cuffs were a touch frayed at the— 

“I know what you’re thinking, Miss Gladstone.” 

She doubted it. 

“You’re incredulous. How could a woman of your standing possibly ascend to such a rank? I can’t deny you’ll find yourself outclassed and un-befriended among the ladies of the peerage, but you will no doubt be consoled with the material advantages. A lavish home, generous lines of credit at all the best shops, a large settlement in the event of my death. You may pay calls, go shopping. Engage in some charitable work, if you must. Your days will be yours to do whatever you wish.” His voice darkened. “Your nights, however, will belong to me.” 

Any response to that was beyond her. An indignant warmth hummed over every surface of her body, seeping into the spaces between her toes. 

“You should expect me to visit your bed every evening, unless you are ill or having your courses, until conception is confirmed.” 

Emma tried, one more time, to understand this conversation. After running through all the possibilities, one alternative seemed the most likely. 

The duke was not merely scarred on his face. He was sick in the head. 

“Your Grace, do you feel feverish?” 

“Not at all.” 

“Perhaps you ought to have a lie-down. I could send your butler for a physician.” 

He gave her a quizzical look. “Do you need a doctor?” 

“Maybe I do.” Emma touched one hand to her brow. Her brain was spinning. 

If he wasn’t ill . . . Could this be some sort of ploy to make her his mistress? Oh, Lord. Perhaps she’d given him the wrong impression with her willingness to disrobe. 

“Are you—” 

There seemed no way to say it but to say it. “Your Grace, are you trying to get me into your bed?” 

Yes. Nightly. I said as much, not a minute ago. Are you listening at all?”   

About The Author 

tessa dareTessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty historical romances. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties. 

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook 

the duchess deal

Giveaway!!! 

Fancy owning a copy of your own? Simply head over to follow my twitter account @vicki_cosybooks where I’m giving away one copy (courtesy of the publisher) and ReTweet my pinned post – you can find me HERE 

Closes March 9th at Midnight GMT, Winner will be selected at random and contacted for mailing address to be passed onto the publisher. Open Internationally!

Good luck!  

duchess deal

#Blogtour – My Mother The Liar by Ann Troup – An Extract (@HQDigital @TroupAnn)

I’m joining the blog tour today for Ann Troup’s latest thriller, My Mother, The Liar. Released by HQ Digital on 12th February 2018 in ebook, I’ve got the incredibly gripping and dramatic first chapter to share with you!

my mother the liarEvery family has its secrets…

From the author of The Lost Child, and The Forgotten Room. Perfect for fans of The Secret Mother and Linda Green.

Two dead bodies. A lifetime of secrets.

When Rachel Porter’s estranged mother dies, she returns to her family home filled with dread about having to face her past, and the people who populated it.

Little does she know that there are dead bodies waiting to be discovered, and a lifetime of secrets are about to untangle.

Secrets kept by her mother, the liar.

 

 

Chapter 1 

Rachel’s mother had been fond of blanket statements that set others indelibly in their places. Proud of her insights into the characters of others she had set out her children’s traits like a script. As if they were pickles in jars, all three of her daughters had been permanently labelled and preserved by her assertions.
Frances was the clever one, Stella was useless, and Rachel was just downright difficult.
Did all parents like to define their offspring, leaving their children floundering and typecast? Rachel felt imperfectly moulded by her family, an inconvenient, bit part player in the sometimes drama that had been her life. It had made her bitter.
Now her mother was dead. Valerie was no more and Rachel wasn’t feeling much of anything except antipathy.
She would have known about Valerie’s death weeks before, but she’d quietly ignored the first letter from Frances, knowing that it couldn’t contain good news. The Porters didn’t trade in good news. The slanting, deeply etched handwriting on the envelope had said enough. Frances could ooze anger even when writing a simple address. She’d used green ink, which Rachel was inclined to think had been distilled from her sister’s bile.

It had taken a second letter containing the expected diatribe of accusations and sour grapes to make Rachel finally take notice. She had already missed the funeral. Frances had been brutal and unforgiving about that. Rightly so in Rachel’s mind – missing your own mother’s funeral was pretty shabby in anyone’s book. Even if your mother was Valerie Porter. She might not have gone back at all if she hadn’t been required to assist with the application for probate. Without that she’d have carried on burying her head in the sand and ignored them all for ever. It was Valerie Porter’s final revenge to force her to go back.

When she was sitting on the train, when it was too late to turn back and take refuge again, she allowed herself to think about the consequences of going back. Of what she’d have to face.

Who she’d have to face.

There were people more dreadful than Frances who populated the past.

While the train took her relentlessly towards ‘home’, she pulled out the second letter and reread Frances’s words.

‘I am patently aware that you still harbour resentment about the past however the house is a joint responsibility and whatever grudges you still bear, I feel you should put them aside for once and show a little loyalty,’ Frances’s letter baldly stated. ‘Stella is nowhere to be found and I’ve been left to deal with this alone. You have a legal obligation to carry out Mother’s last wishes at least. I will expect to see you at the soonest opportunity I shan’t say at your convenience because that would mean waiting for ever”

Rachel could imagine the gritted teeth and grim expression that had fuelled those words. It had been a sense of stale guilt and obligation that got her to Paddington Station plus curiosity and a strange, unpleasant yearning for something she couldn’t define which had made her get on the train. Since when had Frances ever needed anything from her?
With every mile that took her closer to home she felt an increasing sense of apprehension. Given the circumstance of her departure all those years ago it was bizarre that Frances would contact her at all, let alone request her help – they both knew that there was no love lost between Valerie and Rachel, they hadn’t spoken in years.

The only logical conclusion she could draw was that her physical presence was needed to allow the sale of the house because no connection between sisters, or mothers for that matter, would have driven Frances to write otherwise. Given that for most of Rachel’s life Frances hadn’t been able to bear being in the same room as her for more than a few minutes there couldn’t be any other reason.

Frances wanted the money. Nothing else on earth would have forced her to make contact, not even the truth. That was something none of them could bring themselves to face.
***
By the time Rachel arrived at the house Frances had already sold everything of any remote value that Valerie hadn’t, and had resorted to burning what was left on a large bonfire in the overgrown garden. Things that couldn’t be burned, like the ancient enamelled cooker that their grandmother had bought in 1959, and the six broken vacuum cleaners that had languished in the attic for years along with numerous
other aged and dishevelled domestic items were to be taken to the local tip by Sid, ‘The Man With A Van’ and his monosyllabic sidekick, Steve.

Sid and Steve were cheap, available and discreet. Frances valued discretion and economy above most things – including false sentiment. She showed none of that when greeting her sister, merely offered her a pair of rubber gloves and a black bag and told her to pick a room, any room, and get on with it. Rachel received a warmer welcome from Sid. The amiable Sid explained that he and Steve had been at the house for days, repeatedly loading the van and making trips to the local landfill site as Frances steadily forced the large old house to disgorge its contents and bare its mouldering soul.

Rachel arrived with barely enough time to salvage Stella’s meagre belongings from the purge, and only just managed to stop Steve feeding yet another box of books onto Frances’s pyre. They were Stella’s books, children’s classics that Stella had kept from her own childhood and had read to Rachel during hers. Frances argued that if Stella had wanted the books she would have taken them with her. Rachel shrugged and said that she was keeping them anyway. One of the rare pleasures of her childhood had been
listening to Stella read those stories, so even if Stella didn’t want them, she did. Besides, monstrous though Frances could be, what kind of person could burn books?

Frances had been so eager to clear the house that she hadn’t really left much that Rachel could do, except stand by and wonder at her sister’s vigorous enthusiasm for incinerating every last stick the house had ever contained. It felt as if she were only there to witness the destruction. It was Frances’s way of punishing her she supposed.
‘I’ve spent too many years being oppressed by all this junk!’ Frances yelled above the crackling bonfire, eyes blazing as bright as the fire as she watched the flames consume yet another chunk of their past. ‘It’s liberating, don’t you think?’

Sid, standing next to Rachel, shook his head and said ‘I dunno, seems a shame really – could have got a few quid for some of that stuff on eBay. Sacrilege ’ he added, bemused. He looked back at the house ‘ must really have been something in its day. They don’t build them like that any more.’

Rachel followed his gaze and looked back at the mock Tudor sprawl she’d once known as home. ‘Probably ’ she said, her voice dull. Not that she could ever remember it being anything other than dark, damp, cold and gloomy. By the time she’d been born The Limes was already suffering from serious neglect. Valerie had been too mean to heat the rooms they didn’t use and mildew had taken hold running riot over the walls. The negligence had been an open invitation for rot and decay to come on in and have
a ball. Even in winter it had sometimes been warmer outside than in – a childhood full of blue noses chilblains and chipping the ice from the taps had left its mark on Rachel. She still couldn’t bear the cold.

The house had eight bedrooms. In Rachel’s memory only four had ever been regularly used. Of the four bathrooms, they had all shared one, and out of the study, drawing room, morning room and reception room, they had only ever used the morning room as it was close to the kitchen and easier to heat. The attics and cellars had been no go zones for so long that she had almost forgotten they existed other than as repositories for the things Valerie had been too lazy to throw away.
As far as Rachel was concerned The Limes was a mausoleum that housed a bitter past. If it had ever had a heyday it was so far back in the mists of time she would have to squint to imagine it.

Much in the way that she needed to squint at Frances through the billowing smoke. She was prodding the fire with the end of a garden hoe, her eyes glinting and flickering with reflected flames making her look like a reject from the legions of hell. The fire had brought out a demonic glee that made Rachel instinctively shudder despite the heat that rolled across the neglected lawn.

‘Right, that’s going nicely ’ Frances called. ‘Stephen, you come with me and we’ll tackle the outbuildings and Sidney, you can go with Rachel and make sure there’s nothing of value left inside.’

A brief flicker of panic crossed Steve’s face as he looked at Sid. Sid had quietly confided to Rachel that both men had fallen foul of Frances’s imperious temper over the past few days and it was considered the short straw if one of them had to work alongside her. ‘Come on, chop chop!’ she shouted, clapping her hands as if Steve was a refractory Pekingese.

Rachel watched them go. ‘I suppose we’d better follow orders ’ she said to Sid, preparing herself to go back into the near naked house. Free of its clutter, the house was even more cavernous than she remembered, all its strident objections to old age and infirmity amplified by the lack of furnishings. With nothing to soak up the sound and attract
the eye it looked bare and ashamed of itself Rachel almost felt sorry for it. Nobody loved it, and she couldn’t remember anybody ever having been happy there. As a home its heart had been hollowed out by acrimony and now it was being finished off by arch indifference.

She and Sid ascended the stairs, the bare treads creaking in protest now that they had been stripped of carpet. They checked the bedrooms, finding them damp and empty, until they entered Valerie’s room. Their mother’s room had always been sacrosanct, an oasis of calm and solitude that Valerie had often retreated to – usually complaining of a headache and clutching a medicinal bottle of sherry. Rachel couldn’t recall ever having been allowed inside, and it surprised her that she’d never thought it strange before that moment.

Now only a few black sacks stood against the wall ready for Sid’s next run to the tip. This first and final ingress into her mother’s secret chamber – the room that had been the inner sanctum, the room that had been the container of Valerie’s personal misery – was a frank disappointment for Rachel. As a child, she had often spied by squinting through the keyhole like a woebegone urchin, imagining that beyond the locked door lay another realm. The wardrobe in the corner might have been the entrance to another dimension, where Valerie existed differently and found the peace she had so often demanded before shutting the door against the needs of her family. Although, in Rachel’s imagination the White Witch had always had much more of a resemblance to Valerie than had been entirely comfortable. Stella’s books had stirred some lonely and uncomfortable memories.

Though Valerie’s presence still echoed in the hollow room, Rachel could not for the life of her imagine what peace of mind her mother had ever found from lying on the bed staring drunkenly at the blowsy roses scrambling across the wallpaper beneath the dust and cobwebs. Those keyhole shaped memories had suggested something exotically different from the chilly, mildewed reality she now faced. The only piece of furniture not yet consigned to the tip, or dispatched to be consumed by the flames of Frances’s blaze, was the wardrobe.

Rachel walked over to it and touched its mirrored door, which opened with an ominous creak. She gave it a wry smile, unsurprised that it wasn’t filled with fur coats and melting snow after all.

‘She said I could have that ’ Sid said, apparently afraid that Rachel might condemn it to the fire. ‘I was saving it for when we finished. That way I can put it on the van and take it straight home ’

The faintest aroma of mothballs belched out as she shut the door. ‘I’ll lock it so it’ll be easier to move. You should hang on to the key- they’re always better when they still have their keys.’

The door was a little warped, and she had to shove it hard to make it fit properly, promptly dislodging the prized key in the process. ‘Bugger!’ she said. The key had bounced on the bare floorboards and hidden itself underneath the wardrobe. On hands and knees, Rachel peered into the murky spider graveyard that lay beneath ‘I can’t see it we’ll have to pull the bloody thing out ’

Sid obliged, and together they coaxed it into a reluctant slide across the wooden boards. As Rachel bent to retrieve the key, something prodded at the edges of her awareness. ‘I didn’t know that was there ’ she murmured, standing up and looking at a door that had been hidden from view.

‘Built in cupboard ’ Sid pronounced knowledgably. ‘What d’you need a wardrobe for if there’s a built in cupboard?’

Rachel shrugged. ‘More junk for you to get rid of I expect ’ she said, prising open the cupboard door and cringing as the hinges squealed in protest. The cupboard was surprisingly empty given the rubbish that had always cluttered the rest of the house. A faint flurry of fetid air wafted into their faces as they peered into its dark recesses. On the lone shelf, there stood a biscuit tin and on the floor stood a metal box. Rachel took down the biscuit tin and levered of the lid. Various bits of paper and old photographs nestled there – mostly showing Frances as a young child. The papers proved to be old school reports, all describing Frances’s attributes in glowing terms. Rachel couldn’t recall Valerie keeping a record of either her or Stella’s school records – though Frances probably would have burnt them if she had. As Rachel rifled through it occurred to her that she had never seen a photograph of herself as a child anywhere in the house. Probably because there weren’t any to see.

Under the photographs was a small red book – the type that had a tiny lock. She took it and the photographs and stuffed them into her back pocket. Maybe Frances would want them, maybe not. The rest she put back in the tin and threw the whole thing into one of the black sacks that flanked the room.

Sid grabbed the metal box ‘Bloody hell, this is heavy. Hey, perhaps we’ve found the family jewels!’ he quipped.

Rachel responded with a sardonic smile. The box was little bigger than a bread bin but looked like it weighed a ton. Sid placed it at Rachel’s feet, grunting with the effort.

‘Want to do the honours?’ he asked.

She shook her head, watching as Sid attempted to release the lid. Though the metal had been galvanised, some substance had affected it, causing rust to scab the edges and eat into the structure. Sid took out a Swiss army knife and used the screwdriver bit as a lever, giving a satisfied grunt as the orangemcrust gave way. He lifted the lid, revealing the contents.

‘It’s full of sand ’ he said, puzzled.

‘Sand?’

‘Hang on, there’s something poking out of it ’ he tugged, dislodging a torrent of dry, gritty matter as the object shifted.

It was some kind of parcel, wrapped in dirty cloth. Sid unwound the material, causing more sand and grit to fall and litter the floor as each layer of fabric came away and disintegrated in his hands.

‘What is it?’ Rachel asked, peering over his shoulder at what appeared to be some type of shrivelled, leathery doll.

Sid didn’t speak. His skin had turned a ghastly shade of grey and all Rachel could see as she peered at his stricken face was his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down like a fishing float as he fought for the words to describe the thing that was now lying on the floor.

***

Frances’s scream was so piercing it rattled the glass in the rotten window frames, buffeting Rachel’s eardrums and snapping Sid out of his shocked stupor as effectively as if it had taken tangible form and slapped him in the face.

Once the sound receded, everything became horribly quiet as if there had been a sudden solar eclipse and the birds had stopped singing in deference to the dark. Time became elastic as seconds extended themselves into blurry, suspended pockets of disbelieving minutes.

Sid’s mobile phone began to ring he tinny, incongruent tones of ‘My Way’ shattering the silence and stirring him into action. When he finally answered the thing after fumbling for it in every pocket, Rachel could hear Steve’s high pitched voice. With escalating panic, he told Sid about the scene outside. Rachel doubted that Steve had ever uttered so many words in one hit before. Which was probably why he sounded confused.

She could have sworn she heard him say that they’d found a dead body in the shed.

 

Doesn’t that just make you want to read more?  Then you can purchase the rest of the book here

About The Author  

ann troup

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.

In a former incarnation she was psychiatric nurse, an experience which frequently informs her writing. She has also owned a cafe and an art/craft gallery. Now she only makes bacon sandwiches as a sideline, but does continue to dabble with clay, paint, paper, textiles, glue…you name it. Occasionally she may decide to give away some of these creations (you have been warned!).

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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#BlogTour ~BookReview – Need To Know by Karen Cleveland (@Transworldbooks) #NeedToKnowBook

Need to knowIn pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust? 

Published 25th January 2018 by Bantam Press (UK)  

I’m not going to lie, Spy Thrillers are not usually my thing. As a child, I had no interest in Bond whenever it was on the TV and since then have avoided stories of espionage like the plague. I don’t really know why – other than I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this kind of book. But something about Need To Know appealed to me – perhaps the promise of “psychological depth” on the cover or the fact that this book centred around a marriage built on lies. Anyway, with some glowing reviews from the blogging world, I thought I’d give it a go.

And yes! I’m so glad I did! Need To Know is such an incredibly gripping and catchy read right from the start. When Vivian, a CSI agent working on bringing down a Russian sleeper cell, discovers a picture of her husband of twenty years  on the computer of a Russian agent everything she knows and trusts is suddenly up in smoke. How exactly is the man she knows and trusts involved? How can she have been living with someone all these years and not know them at all? And what does she do when faced with the dilemma between loyalty to her country and protecting her own family?

I wanted to know the answers to all these questions and sped through this book at break neck speed to find out! I thought the conflict between loyalties that Vivian feels was very well written and believable – her turmoil coming across as she struggled with the betrayal of her husband and fear of the complex and dangerous situation her whole family now faced. Along with Viv, her husband Matt kept me on edge as unease and doubt about him conflicted with some pity and optimism that he was a good guy. Karen Cleveland kept the momentum up right to the very last sentence, so that the reader never knows who exactly can be trusted in this twisty, tense thriller.

The book also mixes psychological elements as claimed on the front cover, with heart stopping danger meaning that as a reader who generally avoids the more physically action packed crime and spy genres, I found this incredibly accessible and satisfying. It turned out to be a breathtakingly quick read for me, which I couldn’t put down and read over a few hours. Would I read more from this author? YES! Definitely! Has it changed my feelings that all spy books aren’t for me? Absolutely! I’m glad I took a chance with this one, and would urge anyone else with an aversion to spy thrillers to give this one a go too. You won’t be disappointed!

need to know blog tour

#BlogTour #BookReview – Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys @TransworldBooks

img_1401England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done? 

Published in Paperback August 10th 2017 by Transworld (UK) 

 

I’d heard so many great things about Dangerous Crossing from bloggers whose tastes and recommendations I trust and respect, and had it marked as a must read. So when the opportunity to read and review as part of the paperback release blog tour arose I was right on board (Ha!) I am so glad too as THIS is exactly the type of book I love to read. Immersive from the very first page, it’s a book that takes you away to another time and place entirely for a few hours and I devoured it in one sitting.

Dangerous Crossing begins in July 1939 when Lily Shepherd boards the cruise liner Orontes for a five and half week journey to Australia. Escaping her past, she’s hoping for adventure and a new life as part of the governments assisted passage scheme for young girls prepared to work in domestic service. While she’s set to work as a maid when she arrives, those five weeks aboard the ship are an opportunity to enjoy leisure and luxury, see some of the world and mingle with the varied and intriguing mix of characters among the other passengers, hailing from all walks of life. But with the world on the brink of war, tensions are high and Lily is set to discover that she isn’t the only one among her new friends with secrets to hide and a past they’d rather forget.

I loved, loved, loved this book. Rachel Rhys’ writing is atmospheric and captivating, bringing the world-within-a-world of life on a cruise liner alive. The setting of Dangerous Crossing is fantastic, an ideal and genius way to represent the breaking down of social barriers and conventions happening around this time, while adding complexity and tension through the suspicion and mistrust stirring among the passengers as war appears imminent.  The rich cast of characters were intriguing and so vividly drawn I could almost see this book being acted out as I read. I also loved the author’s colourful depictions of the places the cruise liner visited, brought to life through the eyes of the somewhat naive and unwordly Lily.

The reader knows, from the beginning of the book, that when the ship finally reaches it’s destination, something awful has happened during the passage and a woman is led off in handcuffs,  but with so many people with secrets to hide, and tensions reaching boiling point over the course of the five week journey, I had no idea who or what had occurred and the need to find out kept me turning the pages. What I particularly appreciated was the subtlety of the intrigue, which complimented the time and setting of the book perfectly. This isn’t an edge of your set mystery, and nor should it be. It’s a deliciously scandal packed unfurling of secrets, leading to a shocking climax I was not in the least expecting!

Dangerous Crossing is undoubtedly one of my favourite books of the year. I’ve been distracted and struggling recently with concentration and suffering the dreaded slump. This book was the perfect anti-dote and I enjoyed every single page. Rich, evocative and intriguing from start to finish, this is one book you don’t want to let sail by!

Dangerous crossing

 

#Blogtour Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill #Guestpost @HQStories

Warm welcome this morning to Melissa Hill who joins me for a stop on the Keep You Safe blog tour with a guest post!

Keep You Safe is Melissa’s latest novel, tackling issues of parenting, vaccination and social responsibility. I’m reading this now and as a parent myself, find it terrifying, Heart wrenching and gripping!  Melissa’s guest post profiles the two main characters, Kate and Madeleine – giving us a little insight into what makes them tick. Enjoy!

keep you safeFor readers who love issue-driven fiction, Melissa Hill has written a breakout novel exploring the “to vaccinate or not” debate and the tragic consequences of one mother’s decision on another.

Single mom Kate O’Donnell is living her worst nightmare. Her young daughter, Clara, who has a medical condition that doesn’t allow her to be vaccinated, becomes critically ill when one of her classmates, Lauren-whose family chose not to vaccinate-contracts and spreads the virus. While Lauren has no trouble recovering from the disease, Clara’s condition worsens. With time spent by her daughter’s bedside, Kate loses her job and slides deeper into medical debt. But when another school parent points the blame at Lauren’s mother, Lucy, and the media begins an attack, we see two very different views on parenting and how badly things can spin out of control when all either of these two women wanted was to keep their daughters safe. 

 

 Keep You Safe – Character Profiles

Single mum Kate O’Hara, widowed two years before the story begins, lives in the small Irish town of Knockroe with her five-year-old daughter Rosie.  

They are both quite new to the community, the family having moved there not long before Kate’s husband Greg, passed away unexpectedly. 

Kate is a nursing professional who works locally, and she and Rosie enjoy a wonderfully close relationship and in Greg’s absence, have gradually developed well-rehearsed household and family routines.  

As the story begins, Rosie has just started school, the worst of Kate’s grief is subsiding and she’s begun to come out of her shell a little, making friends with some of the other mums at Rosie’s school, Applewood primary. 

Having weathered a tough few years she’s on the verge of getting her life back and looking forward to moving on. Rosie herself is flourishing, she loves school, has a wide range of interests and is an outgoing and friendly little girl.  

Money is short and while Kate occasionally feels lonely and isolated from other family, for the most part, life in Knockroe is good. 

But there is one ongoing worry that Kate can never ignore; Rosie has a medical condition that means she cannot be vaccinated. For this reason, Kate needs to keep a very close eye on any infectious childhood diseases going round the school or the locality, because it’s entirely up to her to keep her daughter safe. 

 Another resident – this one Knockroe born and bred – is mummy blogger Madeleine Cooper, who lives with her husband Tom and their two children, Jake and Clara. They are an affluent family with a big house in the town, and lots of family support close by.  

Madeleine is popular amongst the locals, though her increased media appearances and occasionally controversial stance on motherhood ensures she has some detractors, namely some of the other Applewood Primary school mums. 

Like Kate, Madeleine wants the absolute best for her children. Which is why she’s working tooth and nail to build her mummy blogging empire and regain some of the independence – financial and personal – she lost since having the kids and being a stay at home mum. A former high-flying marketing consultant, she really struggled with self-identity and found the early days of childrearing a challenge.  

A self-proclaimed ‘unmumsy mum’, Madeleine also found it difficult to identify with fellow new mums, and as such felt isolated from the local mother/toddler community.  

Instead, she turned to internet and found a tribe of like-minded people there, and a series of humorous posts and articles about the harsh realities of motherhood soon led to ‘Mad Mum’, her popular blog with a burgeoning number of followers – and subsequently some advertising deals. 

Ultimately, Madeleine is unapologetic about her belief that mums need to give themselves a break and aim to balance their own needs against parental obligations. 

But she’s also made some choices that Kate didn’t have the luxury of choosing.  

While Kate is unable to vaccinate her daughter, Madeleine and her husband Tom decided against vaccinating their children because they are wary of potential side effects. 

Kate and Madeleine’s worlds collide when Rosie and Clara both become ill with measles, and KEEP YOU SAFE is the story of two mothers, two different choices and two very different outcomes. 

Melissa Hill, 2017. 

 About The Author 

melissa hillMelissa Hill lives in County Wicklow with her husband and daughter.

A USA Today and international No 1 bestseller, she is the author of 15 novels. A TV adaptation of A GIFT TO REMEMBER will be released as Hallmark Christmas movie in 2017 and SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S is currently in development with a major Hollywood studio.

Melissa’s books have been translated into 25 different languages including Bulgarian, German, Czech, Finnish, Latvian, Serbian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Thai and Chinese and have hit bestseller lists in multiple countries. The Italian edition of SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S, ‘Un Regalo da Tiffany’ spent eight weeks at No 1 in Italy, selling over 600,000 copies, making it one of the bestselling 2011 Italian books overall.

Her writing combines all the warmth and humour of contemporary women’s fiction with plots that keep readers guessing from page to page.

Melissa also co-writes forensic thrillers with her husband Kevin under the pen-name Casey Hill, featuring crime scene investigator Reilly Steel. For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/caseyhillbooks.

Website I Facebook I Twitter

 

keep you safe bt

#BlogTour – Q&A With The Mother Author -Jaime Raven @avonbooksuk

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Jaime Raven to the blog to answer some questions about her new book, The Mother.
the mother 2Hello Jaime, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself ? 

I’m a full-time author and I live with my partner in Southampton, although I’m originally from London. I have three children and I’ve written three books for Avon/Harper Collins – THE MADAM, THE ALIBI and THE MOTHER. I used to be a journalist and worked in newspapers and for TV news programmes for a number of years. I enjoy reading crime books and thrillers by other writers.

The Mother is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words?

The Mother is about the abduction of 15-month-old Molly Mason. She’s the daughter of detective Sarah Mason, who works for the Metropolitan Police in London. What makes The Mother different from other ‘stolen child’ stories is that the kidnapper says he has taken Molly as punishment for something that Sarah did to him. However, she has no idea what it is and the agony is made worse because the kidnapper sends her upsetting messages and video clips of her daughter. His aim is to make sure that ‘her suffering does not diminish over time.’ The book follows the desperate hunt to find Molly and the impact it has on Sarah and the rest of her family, including Molly’s father.

I’m intrigued by your main character, Sarah, a single mother working full time (like me, but thankfully not as dangerous a job!) Can you describe Sarah and what makes her tick?

Sarah is like many women – struggling to hold down a full-time job while raising a small child by herself. She divorced her husband, who is also a detective, because he cheated on her. But they stay in touch because he has his daughter every other weekend. As a police officer Sarah is used to dealing with victims of crime, but this is the first time that she’s been a victim herself and she finds it hard to cope. However, she’s a strong woman and is determined to get her daughter back even if it means  putting her own life on the line to do so.

Your books feature some pretty dark themes, can you tell us about the research you the alibi cover picundertake before writing?

Searching for information is much easier now than it used to be thanks to the internet. I enjoy research and I carry it out before and during the writing process. It’s true that my books feature some pretty dark themes and if anyone looked at what’s on my computer without knowing that I’m an author they would think I’m a real dodgy character.
For instance, I’ve downloaded lots of material on various ways to murder people, on child abduction, prostitution, cyber-crime and how to spy on individuals without them knowing. It all helps to add reality and credibility to a story. Researching a novel is fun because it expands your knowledge base and opens your eyes to all manner of things that you wouldn’t otherwise know anything about.

Crime thrillers keep going from strength to strength in popularity – why
do you think readers can’t get enough of the genre? What elements do you
think make a great Crime thriller book?

I think crime thrillers continue to be popular for several reasons. They’re a great form of entertainment because they take us into a world that very few of us would want to visit in real life. They arouse our curiosity and excite us at the same time. And they can also make us feel genuinely grateful that we’re not in those tricky and dangerous situations that our fictional heroes find themselves in.

To my mind a great crime thriller needs to be full of twists and turns and move along at breakneck speed. The characters – both good and bad – must be engaging and plausible. And originality is crucial if a book is to stand out from the rest in a crowded marketplace.

the-madam-coverMost writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which
authors and novels would you recommend as must reads? 

I’ve been an avid reader of crime novels and thrillers since I was a teenager. I still read at least two books a month even when I’m working on a novel. Among the books I would recommend are two of my all-time favourites – The Godfather by Mario Puzo and Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. The first is about the American mafia and the second introduces readers to fiction’s most notorious serial killer – Hannibal Lecter.
I’m also a big fan of Lee Child’s books because I love his creation, Jack Reacher. My favourite Reacher book is Tripwire. Another bestselling author I would recommend is Linwood Barclay, who never disappoints. A must read would be his early work No Time for Goodbye in which a teenage girl wakes up to find her entire family has disappeared.

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell
us about where you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the
creative process?

I’m one of those authors who have to write in longhand first. I just can’t tap out a story directly onto the computer. I have a small office at home but I don’t like to use it. Instead I visit coffee shops on most days. For some reason the words and ideas flow more easily when things are going on around me. I tend to sit for a couple of hours in a coffee shop and then return home to type up what I’ve written. After I’ve completed several chapters I’ll upload them onto my Kindle and go through them again because it helps to see how it will look when it’s published.

I also have to carry a small notebook and pen with me wherever I go. If I ever forget them I start to panic because I hate the thought of coming up with a brilliant idea and not being able to jot it down.

Finally, can you tell us what you are working on next? 

I’ve actually just finished the first draft of the next book for Avon. I can’t give too much away because I haven’t yet sent it to my agent and my editor. The working title is THE THREAT and it’s due to be published early next year. The book is set in London and features two very strong women whose paths cross in a story that includes generous helpings of love, sex, villainy and violence! 
Thank you Jaime for taking the time to answer my questions…I hope you enjoyed
them!

The Mother by Jaime Raven

the mother 2I’ve taken your daughter, as punishment for what you did …

Prepare to be gripped by the heart-stopping new thriller from the author of The Madam.

South London detective Sarah Mason is a single mother. It’s a tough life, but Sarah gets by. She and her ex-husband, fellow detective Adam Boyd, adore their 15-month-old daughter Molly.

Until Sarah’s world falls apart when she receives a devastating threat: Her daughter has been taken, and the abductor plans to raise Molly as their own, as punishment for something Sarah did.

Sarah is forced to stand back while her team try to track down the kidnapper. But her colleagues aren’t working fast enough to find Molly. To save her daughter, Sarah must take matters into her own hands, in a desperate hunt that will take her to the very depths of London’s underworld. 

Published 7th September by Avon (UK) 

The Mother

#BlogTour #BookReview – CopyCat by Alex Lake – @HarpercollinsUk @FictionPubTeam

copycatYour stalker is everywhere.
Your stalker knows everything.
But the real problem is that your stalker is you.

Sarah Havenant discovers–when an old friend points it out–that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now–almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile–that her problems really start… 

Published 5th September 2017 by Harper Collins UK  

You know when you pick up a book and right from the very first page you’re hooked? Well Copycat is THAT book. Hugely addictive, tense and chilling right from the first page, this is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat reading from beginning to end.

Copycat starts when successful Doctor and happily married mum of three, Sarah, discovers she has been victim of what first appears to be identity fraud on Facebook. When an old friend gets in touch asking which profile is best to be friends on, Sarah’s attention is drawn to the copycat account. But closer inspection reveals something much more sinister than she originally presumed, when photo’s of her life and home appear as it happens on the cloned timeline.

I’ve read a few books recently which feature Facebook, and seriously it provides the perfect vehicle for intense psychological drama. But Copycat manages to notch up the chills a level, due to the absolute credibility of someone setting up a fake account and using it to cause distress, unease and paranoia. When the focus of Sarah’s torment shifts from Facebook into real life, it’s clear someone really has it in for her and will stop at nothing to seek their revenge. But what has Sarah done that’s so bad? And who’s behind the campaign of terror and manipulation?

Wow, this is such a clever book, twisting truth and casting doubt everywhere. As Sarah becomes increasingly scared and her sanity is called into question, I really felt for her. I was surprised in some ways how easily her husband Ben began to doubt his wife and wanted to scream at him as he too plays right into the perpetrators hands and leaves Sarah increasingly isolated and vulnerable. I had an inkling about midway through who was behind the cruel and twisted psychological assault on Sarah, but I had no idea why. As the book raced towards the conclusion, the menace and threat intensifies and I literally burned through the final chapters unable to look away or put the book down for a second.

CopyCat is very, very clever. It’s truly psychologically thrilling, with a twisted, complex villain and a victim who’s mind unravels right before the readers eyes. And I loved the ending, with a final twist that leaves an unsettling feeling that this is a story that isn’t quite over. Sinister, clever and chilling and absolutely gripping, Copycat is a must for fans of psychological thrillers.

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Keep Me Safe #BlogTour Q&A With Daniela Sacerdoti – @HeadlinePG

I’m absolutely THRILLED to be welcoming Daniela Sacerdoti to Cosy Books today as part of her UK Paperback release for Keep Her Safe. I reviewed this gorgeous book back in April, so I was delighted to be able to ask Daniela a few questions!

keep me safeDiscover the million-copy-selling Daniela Sacerdoti. Lose your heart. Find your home…

When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered. But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all, falling silent for three days. When she does finally speak, Ava talks about a new place – a small island of beauty, salt and sea in the Western Scottish Isles. In search of a new start, Anna and Ava embark on a journey to the remote and gorgeous Island of Seal. Falling in love with the locals and the landscape, could Seal offer the second chance they both need? 

Published in paperback 7th September 2017 by Headline

daniala sacerdotiHello Daniela, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?

Thank you for having me! Well, I’m nearly 44 years old…though I don’t feel it! I’m the mother of two lovely boys, Sorley, who’s 12 and Luca, who’s 10. I’m Italian but I lived in Scotland for 15 years, with my Scots husband. We came back to my home village of Caravino, a tiny place in North-West Italy, two years ago. I live in a beautiful, crumbly old house with my husband, our boys and a cocker-spaniel who goes by the name of Sasha. We have a tiny vineyard in the garden – ok, more of a vine! – and my dream is to get some chickens and live the Good Life! 

Keep Me Safe is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words?

Keep Me Safe is about finding your own family, which is often not straightforward. It can take a lot of courage and a meandering journey. It’s the story of Anna, a devoted young mother whose daughter, Ava, starts having memories of another life on a remote Scottish island, Seal. Anna and Ava travel there to unravel the mystery, and their lives take an unexpected turn.

I absolutely adored the setting of Seal. Can you tell us what inspired you to base your story on a small island?

This is such a good question! I never really thought of the reasons. Seal came to me ready-made and I just went with it. I think probably I’m fascinated with the sense of isolation and remoteness connected with islands, also, although I was brought up and live at the foot of the Alps, I have a strong connection with the sea – don’t we all! The sea can be symbolic of characters’ emotions and soul, a kind of mirror. Also, in my Seal novels the sea is nearly a harbinger of destiny – administering life, death and life changes almost as it has a will of its own, or if expressing a higher will. An island community is more isolated than a village one, making the action more contained and the characters quite special – not everyone would live in such a remote place, separated from the world by waters that are never completely tranquil. In Keep Me Safe, Sorren and the Catriona describe what living on Seal is like and why of the many people who fall in love with the place only very few will stay. If I could live in my dream place, my first would be where I am – my second would be the Hebrides!

Keep Me Safe has themes of past lives and reincarnation. What appealed to you about this subject and what kind of research did you undertake before writing it?

I didn’t do any research, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of reincarnation and I looked at it in Watch Over Me already (my first book). Reincarnation comes back in my next Seal novel too. Creatively it’s a huge part of my imagination because I feel very connected to my women ancestors – but in real life, as a Catholic, I believe in eternal life. Reincarnation to me is more the idea of genetic memory and how experiences, sorrows, joys and attachment seem to mysteriously go down through the blood. Maybe it’s our DNA, maybe it’s how things are remembered and discussed in families – who knows!

I also felt that there was a theme of overcoming loss of some kind and moving forward in several of the character’s stories. Was this your intention?

Yes. Loss has been an integral part of my life from an early age, and then as life goes on we all, with no exception, experience it. I always found hard to move on after a loss – I seem to obsess about the past more than most, so maybe writing is a kind of catharsis for me. I help my characters through loss, and by doing that, I help myself. Also, I’m fascinated with the idea of starting afresh – my lovely Eilidh, the protagonist of Watch Over Me, is someone who has to begin a new life at thirty-five, while Inary, Margherita and finally Anna all have to negotiate a move north. I love to write about a woman who builds a life out of smoking ruins – us women are incredibly resilient and resourceful.

The sense of community on Seal Island was wonderful and something I enjoyed very much and I’m intrigued by some of the minor character’s stories. Will we be hearing more of those in the next books in the series?

Absolutely! Just like in the Glen Avich series, we always see some old friends popping up. Although the spotlight is on new characters, I write about the community – therefore in each novel I visit the same places, with the same people in it. I love to know how they’re getting on, it’s like catching up with old friends. Also, some of them still have things to say – for example, Inary came back in Calling You Home, a Christmas short I wrote, because there was a development in her life I really had to tell my readers about. 

Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would you recommend as must reads?

I’m a voracious reader, and I’ve been since I was a wee girl. My favourite books of all time are Anne Of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (what is it with my fave writers and initials? Maybe I need to slip a couple of extra initials in my name too!). I read all genres except horror – with James Herbert as my only horror exception. In my own genre, women’s fiction or romance, I adore Maeve Binchy, Sheila O’Flanagan and Lesley Pearse – they really are masters…or mistresses! Of our genre. I also love science fiction, with Andy Weir being my pinnacle – The Martian is fantastic. There are a lot of children’s and teenagers’ books in my house, both for my boys and me! Our favourites are Roy Gill’s Daemon Parallel series and anything Harry Potter. At the moment I landed by complete chance on a biography of the Bronte sisters and brother, and I’m loving it – but as I’m about to start my new novel, I’m about to go a reading famine for a while. I don’t read when I’m deep in a story of mine, otherwise I might get swayed – and anyway I can’t concentrate on anything when I’m writing. Therefore, I binge-read in between books. I always have my head in a book or in my kindle, and I’m happy to say that my eldest boy, Sorley, has asked me to establish a reading club with just two members – us! In the garden, in the kitchen, on his bed or on Mum and Dad’s big bed, Sorley and I read together and discuss our latest crazes. My youngest doesn’t see the fascination we have with books – he’s more of a music guy.

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process?

My writing routine has changed hugely since my youngest went to school, three years ago. Before my routine consisted in simply ‘write whenever you can’ – nursery times, nap times, pre-dawn time. It was exhausting, to be honest, and I couldn’t give up on my precious time with him nor the writing. We both survived😊 And now I have whole days to write. I do the school run, then stick music or even the TV on – if it’s in Italian, low volume and repetitive sounds it helps my concentration – and keep going until it’s time to get the boys from school. In between I walk the dog and pretend to do some housework. I love a clean and tidy home and hate housework, which is a bit of a conflicting combination! I have a lovely desk with all my books and my stationery…and hardly ever use it. I end up in the garden or at the kitchen table, whatever takes my fancy. Before I start the writing phase though, there’s a lot of thinking to do – ideas for stories come to me easily, but shaping them takes time. In a way I never really get a break from writing, because I go about my daily life while thinking and gathering inspiration – my husband says that when I’m thinking of a book, he can see it in my eyes. I write ideas in notebooks, which is so much nicer than a computer screen – but I still haven’t made the leap to writing a whole book by hand.

Finally, when will readers expect to make their next visit to Seal Island?

Soon! In May 2018 Headline is publishing my new Seal island book, I Will Find You.

Thank you Cosy Books!:)  

About The Author

I was born and raised in Italy, but I’ve lived in Scotland for fourteen years. I have now come back to live in my tiny Alpine village, with my husband and sons. I have a degree in Classics and I work as a full time writer and mother, which makes me two people, somehow.

I write adult fiction (the Glen Avich stories), Young Adult (the Sarah Midnight Trilogy) and children’s fiction (Really Weird Removals.com, shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards). My books are translated in twelve languages and have sold nearly a million e-copies. I have also written for the BBC and several newspapers.

When I don’t write, I spend time with my children, I cook, I walk in my beautiful village home, or I think about writing. If you fancy a chat, drop me a line. I’m always happy to hear from my readers!

keep me safe bt

#BlogTour – Dr Jekyl and Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill – an Extract @BWPublishing

I’m kicking off the blog tour for Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill today. The novel is a sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, set seven years after the death of Edward Hyde and the mysterious disappearance of Dr Jekyll.

dr jekyll and mr seek.jpgThe Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Continues…

Seven years after the death of Edward Hyde, a stylish gentleman shows up in foggy London claiming to be Dr Henry Jekyll. Only Mr Utterson, Jekyll’s faithful lawyer and confidant, knows that he must be an impostor – because Jekyll was Hyde. But as the man goes about charming Jekyll’s friends and reclaiming his estate, and as the bodies of potential challengers start piling up, Utterson is left fearing for his life … and questioning his own sanity.

This brilliantly imagined and beautifully written sequel to one of literature’s greatest masterpieces perfectly complements the original work. And where the original was concerned with the duality of man, this sequel deals with the possibility of identity theft of the most audacious kind. Can it really be that this man who looks and acts so precisely like Dr Henry Jekyll is an imposter? 

Published September 1st by Black and White Publishing

Thanks to Lina for sending me a copy of this absolutely gorgeous looking book – seriously, the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s stunning! Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek is published today – here’s an extract to give you a taste of the book. Enjoy!

A sulphurous yellow fog, so thick it muffled the chimes of the Sunday church bells, had fastened overnight to London and refused to be dislodged by even the stiffest of breezes. It smothered domes and spires, blurred chimneys and gables, smudged walls and windows, and altogether turned the city into an immense spectral museum, through which even the most audacious traveller proceeded warily, never certain of what strange sights might lurk in the next chamber. 

Mr Gabriel Utterson, the bald and bird-like lawyer, and his distant kinsman Mr Richard Enfield, the dashing man about town, were more than familiar with London fogs, having conducted their Sunday walks together for nearly eighteen years. Yet it is by no means certain that, were it not for the density of this particular fog on this particular day, they would have found themselves in a by-street of peculiar infamy. 

‘Well,’ said Enfield, after a moment’s hesitation, ‘I should not need to tell you where the hand of fate has guided us.’ 

‘I know the street well enough,’ replied Utterson. 

‘A certain building – yes, I see it now. A place as disagreeable as the man who emerged from it.’ 

‘He has not emerged from it for some time now. Nor from any other building, I wager.’ 

‘And yet, I can still see his face,’ mused Enfield, ‘as if it were yesterday.’ 

Both men were staring across the street, where not far from the corner was a windowless building with a frowning gable and a dark, blistered door. And both men remembered, with remarkable immediacy, the hideous little man called Hyde who had scuttled out of that door, and slithered into the night, and enacted crimes so evil that they still had the power to chill the blood, even when viewed through the misted window of memory. 

‘How long has it been now?’ asked Enfield. 

‘Nearly seven years,’ his companion replied. 

‘Seven years? Since he trampled over that poor girl? And murdered Sir Danvers Carew?’ 

‘And took his own life, in those very dissecting rooms.’ 

‘Seven years . . .’ said Enfield, staring fixedly at the place. ‘Then it is also seven years,’ he went on, ‘since Jekyll disappeared?’ 

‘Quite so.’ 

‘Meaning that you, being Jekyll’s lawyer and sole beneficiary, will shortly be taking possession of his estate?’ 

‘Within two weeks, in fact.’ 

‘Including all his property?’ 

‘As Jekyll himself directed.’ 

Enfield nodded slowly, still looking across the street. ‘Then how, may I ask, are you inclined to deal with it?’ 

‘With the dissecting rooms?’ Utterson asked. ‘I intend to sell them as soon as possible, for they hold no value to me – and little to anyone else, I fancy.’ 

The younger man nodded. ‘There is nothing good to be said for them,’ he said. ‘So let us hope they are soon demolished, and quickly forgotten.’ 

‘Quite right,’ said Utterson. 

But both men knew that this was only half the story, for the dissecting rooms were connected at their rear to another, more presentable, building, which in turn faced onto another, more presentable street. And it was to inspect the front of this other residence that the two men now progressed, as if by some tacit agreement, down to the corner and across the square. 

‘We enjoyed some splendid dinners with Jekyll there,’ said Enfield, looking back. 

‘We did indeed.’ 

‘Henry was an exceptional host.’ 

‘He was.’ 

‘He had exquisite taste in most things.’ 

‘That, too, cannot be denied.’ 

Enfield nodded. ‘Are you intending to sell his home as 

well?’ 

‘No, I cannot bear to do so,’ said Utterson. ‘Of all the houses in London, it has always been my favourite. I would hate to relinquish it now.’ 

‘I doubt Henry would want you to,’ Enfield said. 

‘I doubt it, too.’ 

The two men regarded the handsome façade, with its gleaming windows, polished bricks and mullioned door, forclose to a minute. 

‘So what, indeed, are your plans for the place?’ 

‘Well,’ said Utterson, shifting, ‘I might yet make some use of it, you know.’ 

‘Indeed?’ 

‘It would be a pity to let it go empty.’ 

‘I suppose so.’ 

Enfield’s curiosity sounded innocent enough, but Utterson had a sense he was skirting around something – some disquieting revelation, perhaps. So the two men stood stiffly for a while, and finally the younger one sighed. 

‘You know, I must tell you something, dear friend. And not with any relish, I’m bound.’ 

‘Oh?’ 

‘Something I overheard at my club. A conversation about the fate of Jekyll, and your part in the whole business.’ 

‘My part, you say?’ 

‘It was some months ago now, and to this day I’ve not cared to mention it. But as I’m to leave town tomorrow, and as you’re about to take over the estate, it might be best that you became aware of some of the mutterings that are abroad.’ 

‘Mutterings?’ Utterson said, frowning. ‘And what indeed are these mutterings?’ 

‘No’ – Enfield appeared to change his mind – ‘I shan’t repeat it. Claptrap, the lot of it. But you should brace yourself, dear friend, lest any of the slander reaches your ears.’ 

Utterson did not say it, but some of the slander – to the effect that he had played some sinister role in Jekyll’s disappearance, even rewritten the doctor’s will in his own favour – had already reached his ears. And while he never enjoyed hearing such calumnies, he could scarcely help being curious about them. 

‘Do tell, at least, what gave rise to such talk.’ 

‘There was a new member at my club,’ Enfield said, ‘who proved especially curious about Jekyll. I cannot remember his name, and I’ve not encountered him since.’ 

‘He gave no reason for asking such questions?’ 

‘Well, he had good reason after the sordid death of that other Jekyll – Thomas Jekyll, Henry’s brother.’ 

‘A half-brother,’ said Utterson. ‘Henry mentioned him once, without any affection.’ 

‘Still, the particulars of his demise appeared in The Times, together with a reference to Henry’s previous disappearance – you must remember?’  

‘I remember. And this prompted the stranger to enquire about me?’  

‘Chiefly about Henry, but your name surfaced now and then. Nonsense, I say. Nonsense, the lot of it.’  

Enfield did not elaborate, and Utterson decided he did not really care to pry – not on this day, in any event. Somewhere a hurdy-gurdy player was cranking out carnival tunes; a dog was yapping furiously; someone was laughing like a demon. The two men, unsettled, were about to move on when Enfield leaned forward.  

‘I say,’ he said, squinting into the mist, ‘is that smoke, rising from Jekyll’s chimney?’  

Utterson, adjusting his spectacles, saw a stain of dark smoke curling into the fog.  

‘Seems so,’ he said, shrugging. ‘The housekeeper, no doubt. I’ve engaged one to maintain the home, in the absence of any other staff.’  

‘Lives in the place, does she?’  

‘No, but she is in possession of a key, and works when she pleases.’  

‘On a Sunday?’  

‘It makes sense, as she has duties elsewhere.’  

In truth Utterson was further unsettled by the sight, but the accumulation of sour memories and sensations, so unsuited to the humour of their weekly stroll, left him ill-equipped for more unpleasantness. So he changed the subject. 

‘In any case,’ he said, ‘this is not getting us any closer to our destination.’ 

‘I suppose not,’ said Enfield – though in truth the two men, in all their years of ambling, had never really had a precise destination. 

For all that, when they parted, after enjoying a lark pie and coffee at Pagani’s, it was with a great deal of warmth and not a little sadness. Enfield passed across the key to his apartment, so that his kinsman might inspect the place in his absence, then the two men shook hands vigorously before going their separate ways, Utterson heading solemnly for south London and Enfield moving at a clip towards Piccadilly – neither man suspecting that one of them would shortly be dead.