EXTRACT: The Secret Mother – Shalini Boland

EXTRACT: The Secret Mother – Shalini Boland

THE SECRET MOTHER

By

Shalini Boland

Chapter One

The street lamps flicker, illuminating the grey pavement mottled with patches of dirty snow and slick black ice. Slushy puddles hug the kerb, cringing away from the hissing, splashing car tyres. It takes all my concentration to keep my balance. My hands would be warmer if I jammed them into my coat pockets, but I need them free to steady myself on walls, fences, tree trunks, lamp posts. I don’t want to fall. And yet would it really be so terrible if I slipped on the ice? Wet jeans, a bruised bum. Not the end of the world. There are worse things. Far worse things.

It’s Sunday: the last exhale of the week. That uncomfortable pause before Monday, when it all starts up again – this lonely pretence at life. Sunday has become a black dot on the horizon for me, growing larger each day. I’m relieved now it’s almost over and yet I’m already anticipating the next one. The day when I visit the cemetery and stand above their graves, staring at the grass and stone, talking to them both, wondering if they hear my inane chatter or if I’m simply talking into the empty wind. In burning sunlight, pouring rain, sub-zero temperatures or thick fog I stand there. Every week. I’ve never missed a Sunday yet.

Sleet spatters my face. Icy needles that make me blink and gasp. Finally, I turn off the high street into my narrow road, where it’s more sheltered and the wind less violent. A rainbow assortment of overflowing bins lines my route, waiting for collection tomorrow at some ungodly pre-dawn hour. I turn my face away from the windows where Christmas tree lights wink and blink, reminding me of happier Christmases. Before.

Almost home.

My little north London terraced house sits halfway along the road. Pushing open the rusted gate, I turn my face away from the neglected front garden with its discarded sweet wrappers and crisp packets blown in from the street, now wedged among long tussocks of grass and overgrown bushes. I thrust my frozen fingers into my bag until they finally close around a jagged set of keys. I’m glad to be home, to get out of the cold, and yet my body sags when I open the door and step into the dark silence of the hall, feeling the hollow of their absence.

At least it’s warm in here. I shrug off my coat, kick off my boots, dump my bag on the hall table and switch on the light, avoiding my sad reflection in the hall mirror. A glass of wine would be welcome about now. I glance at my watch – only 5.20. No. I’ll be good and make a hot chocolate instead.

Strangely, the door to the kitchen is closed. This strikes me as odd, as I always leave it open. Perhaps a gust of wind slammed it shut when I came in. I trudge to the end of the hall and stop. Through a gap in the bottom of the door I see that the light is on. Someone’s in there. I catch my breath, feel the world slow down for a moment before it speeds back up. Could I have a burglar in my house?

I cock my ear. A sound filters through. Humming. A child is humming a tune in my kitchen. But I don’t have a child. Not any more.

Slowly I pull down the handle and push the door, my body tensing. I hardly dare breathe.

Here before me sits a little boy with dark hair, wearing pale blue jeans and a green cable-knit jumper. A little boy aged about five or six, perched on a chair at my kitchen counter, humming a familiar tune. Head down, he is intent on his drawing, colouring pencils spread out around an A4 sheet of paper. A navy raincoat hangs neatly over the back of the chair.

He looks up as I enter the room, his chocolate-brown eyes wide. We stare at one another for a moment.

‘Are you my mummy?’ the little boy asks.

I bite my bottom lip, feel the ground shift. I grasp the counter top to steady myself. ‘Hello,’ I say, my heart suddenly swelling. ‘Hello. And who might you be?’

‘You know. I’m Harry,’ he replies. ‘Do you like my picture?’ He holds the sheet out in front of him, showing me his drawing of a little boy and a woman standing next to a train. ‘It’s not finished. I haven’t had time to colour it in properly,’ he explains.

‘It’s lovely, Harry. Is that you standing next to the train?’

‘Yes.’ He nods. ‘It’s you and me. I drew it for you because you’re my mummy.’

Am I hallucinating? Have I finally gone crazy? This beautiful little boy is calling me his mummy. And yet I don’t know him. I’ve never seen him before in my life. I close my eyes tight and then open them again. He’s still there, looking less confident now. His hopeful smile has faltered, slipping into a frown. His eyes are now a little too bright. I know that look – it’s the one that precedes tears.

‘Hey, Harry,’ I say with false jollity. ‘So you like trains, huh?’

His smile returns. ‘Steam trains are the best. Better than diesels.’ He scrunches up his face in disgust and blinks.

‘Did you come here on the train? To my house?’

‘No. We came on the bus. I wish we did come on the train, the bus was really slow. And it made me feel a bit sick.’ He lays the sheet of paper back on the counter.

‘And who did you come with?’ I ask.

‘The angel.’

I think I must have misheard him. ‘Who?’

‘The angel brought me here. She told me that you’re my mummy.’

‘The angel?’

He nods.

I glance around, suddenly aware that Harry might not be the only stranger in my house. ‘Is she here now?’ I ask in a whisper. ‘Is there someone else here with you?’

‘No, she’s gone. She told me to do some drawing and you’d be here soon.’

I relax my shoulders, relieved that there’s no one else in my home. But it still doesn’t help me solve the problem of who this little boy is. ‘How did you get into the house?’ I ask, nervously wondering if I might find a smashed window somewhere.

‘Through the front door, silly,’ he replies with a smile, rolling his eyes.

Through the front door? Did I leave it open somehow? I’m sure I would never have done that. What’s going on here? I should call someone. The authorities. The police. Somebody will be looking for this child. They will be frantic with worry. ‘Would you like a hot chocolate, Harry?’ I ask, keeping my voice as calm as possible. ‘I was going to make one for myself, so—’

‘Do you make it with milk?’ he interrupts. ‘Or with hot water? It’s definitely nicer with milk.’

I suppress a smile. ‘I agree, Harry. I always make it with milk.’

‘Okay. Yes, please,’ he replies. ‘Hot chocolate would be lovely.’

My heart squeezes at his politeness.

‘Shall I carry on colouring in my picture,’ he says, ‘or shall I help you? Because I’m really good at stirring in the chocolate.’

‘Well, that’s lucky,’ I reply, ‘because I’m terrible at stirring in the chocolate, so it’s a good thing you’re here to help me.’

He grins and slides off the stool.

What am I doing? I need to call the police right now. This child is missing from somewhere. But, oh God, just give me ten minutes with this sweet little boy who believes I’m his mother. Just a few moments of make-believe and then I’ll do the right thing. I reach out to touch his head and immediately snatch my hand back. What am I thinking? This boy has to go back to his real mother; she must be paralysed with worry.

He smiles up at me again and my chest constricts.

‘Okay,’ I say, taking a breath and blinking back any threat of tears. ‘We’ll do the chocolate in a minute. I’m just going to make a quick phone call in the hall, okay?’

‘Oh, okay.’

‘Carry on with your drawing for a little while. I won’t be long.’

He climbs back up onto the stool and selects a dark green pencil before resuming his colouring with a look of serious concentration. I turn away and pad out to the hall, where I retrieve my phone from my bag. But instead of dialling the police, I call another number. It rings twice.

‘Tess.’ The voice at the other end of the line is clipped, wary.

‘Hi, Scott. I need you to come over.’

‘What? Now?’

‘Yes. Please, it’s important.’

‘Tessa, I’m knackered, and it’s hideous out there. I’ve just sat down with a cup of tea. Can’t it wait till tomorrow?’

‘No.’ Standing by the hall table, I glimpse Harry through the doorway, the curls of his fringe flopping over one eye. Am I dreaming him?

‘What’s the matter?’ Scott says this the way he always says it. What he really means is, What’s the matter now? Because there’s always something the matter. I’m his damaged wife, who’s always having some new drama or make-believe crisis. Only this time he’ll see it’s something real, it’s something not of my making.

‘I can’t tell you over the phone, it’s too weird. You have to come over, see for yourself.’

His sigh comes long and hard down the phone. ‘Give me twenty minutes, okay?’

‘Okay. Thanks, Scott. Get here as soon as you can.’

My heart pounds, trying to make sense of what’s happening. That little boy in there says an angel brought him. He says I’m his mummy. But he’s not mine. So where on earth did he come from?

I take a breath and go back into the kitchen. The air is warm, welcoming, cosy. Nothing like the usual sterile atmosphere in here.

‘Can we make hot chocolate now?’ Harry looks up with shining eyes.

‘Of course. I’ll get the mugs and the chocolate. You open that drawer over there and pass me the smallest pan you can find.’

He eagerly does as I ask.

‘Harry,’ I say. ‘Where are your parents, your mummy and daddy?’

He stares at the pans in the drawer.

‘Harry?’ I prompt.

‘They’re not here,’ he replies. ‘Is this one small enough?’ He lifts out a stainless-steel milk pan and waves it in my direction.

‘Perfect.’ I nod and take it from him. ‘Can you tell me where you live?’

No reply.

‘Did you run away from home? Are you lost?’

‘No.’

‘But where’s your house or flat? The place you live? Is it here in Friern Barnet? In London? Close to my house?’

He scowls and looks down at the flagstone floor.

‘Do you have a last name?’ I ask as gently as I can.

He looks up at me, his chin jutting out. ‘No.’

I try again, crouching down so I’m on his level. ‘Harry, darling, what’s your mummy’s name?’

‘You’re my new mummy. I have to stay here now.’ His bottom lip quivers.

‘Okay, sweetie. Don’t worry. Let’s just make our drinks, shall we?’

He nods vigorously and sniffs.

I give his hand a squeeze and straighten up. I wish I hadn’t had to call Scott. And yet I need him to be here when I ring the police. I can’t deal with them on my own, not after what happened before. I’m dreading their arrival – the questions, the sideways glances, the implication that I might have done something wrong. I haven’t done anything wrong, though. Have I?

And Harry… he’ll be taken away. What if his parents have been abusive? What if he has to go into foster care? A thousand thoughts run through my mind, each worse than the one before. But it’s not my place to decide what happens to him. There’s nothing I can do about any of it, because he’s not mine.

I don’t have a child. Not any more.

The Secret Mother Book Cover The Secret Mother
Shalini Boland
Bookouture
09.11.2017
241

Tessa Markham comes home to find a child in her kitchen calling her ‘mummy’. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the little boy is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa comes under suspicion for snatching the child. She must fight to prove her innocence. But how can she convince everyone she’s not guilty when even those closest to her are questioning the truth? And when Tessa doesn’t even trust herself…

A chilling, unputdownable thriller with a dark twist that will take your breath away and make you wonder if you can ever trust anyone again. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Sister.

What readers are saying about Shalini Boland:

'Read in one sitting from 9pm last night until 2:15 am. I literally could not put it down!!!! The story line and the twists and the way it's written just draws you in completely and you have to know where it's going I couldn't read fast enough… absolutely addictive and brilliant and an end I didn't see coming. This is one book you have to read and it gets 5 huge stars from me!!!!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘What can I say? Just wow. I'm usually never surprised by an ending, but this one blew me away. I am totally in shock and think I'll have a hangover from this book for a while. A great read that keeps you on your toes until the very last word.’ Stacey Harrell, Goodreads

‘If anyone can have me reading until 2am and finishing a book in less than 48hrs in the school holidays it’s this author… massive five stars from me.’ Sarah Mackins, UK Crime Book Club, 5 stars

‘The ending of this book blew me out of the water, you won’t be able to put this down.’ For the Love of Books, 5 stars

‘The plot is gripping and once you've started reading, you have to keep on reading, you need to know how the story will end.’ Bits About Books, 5 Stars

... one of the most chilling reads of the year for me.’Ajoobacats Blog, 5 Stars

‘This book should come with a warning… make sure you have enough time to read it in one-sitting because as soon as you’ll pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!’ Bookishly Ever After, 5 stars

‘This is a brilliant psychological thriller. In fact, it's one of the best I've read. It is full of suspense and has more twists and turns than a fairground ride.’ Jackie Roche, UK Crime Book Club, 5 Stars

‘I thought I knew the direction this story was going go. Then the jaw dropping moment happened!... unputdownable!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘Once again, Boland has managed to blow my mind with all the twists and turns… an outstanding explosive read!’ Mello and June, 5 Stars

'Great book. I read it in less than 24 hours. I was unable to put it down. The story was fast paced and intriguing.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

 

BLOG TOUR: Playing Defense – Aven Ellis

BLOG TOUR: Playing Defense – Aven Ellis

Aven is back with the latest installment in the Dallas Demons series. This time we focus on JP and Reese, both of whom we have met in previous Dallas Demon books.

Playing Defense is Aven at her best once again. With her lighthearted plot, loveable characters and hockey, what more could you ask for? Aven has a way of drawing me in as a reader and taking me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions along with the characters. Playing defense was no exception, I found my self crying with laughter at her light hearted wit. Aven manages to inject such humor in to her plot, I love the unfortunate events her characters find themselves in and can not help but laugh out loud. But then she manages to throw a spanner in the works that will leave me sobbing and desperate for things to work out for the characters.

JP was a man that I completely fell in love with, probably one of my favourites of the series in fact. He was gentle, sweet and kind, too reliable and safe for most of the women he had dated. But not for Reese,  JP comes along and he is the perfect match for her, he is everything she is wishing for and the chemistry between them is hot. The pages literally sizzled as things between them  intensified. Reese herself was a beautiful character, she was so down to earth and likeable, and everything JP needed.

The relationships between JP and Reese characters and their friends and family, whom we have met in previous books, were as always warm and realistic. Each came alive through their story, each of which was consistent and really added to the depth and realism of these well rounded and likeable characters.

Aven is a one of kind writer, who manages to leave me a huge smile on my face time and time again. The humour and passion oozes from the page and as always I am taken on a rollercoaster ride of discovery. No stone is left unturned and Aven delivers once again, I certainly wasn’t disappointed and as always we got the perfect ending.

Thank you Aven for giving me this escape and giving me one hell of a smile. Light hearted, humorous and sizzling with passion.

 

Excerpt:

“JP,” I say, heading over to it. “You got a piano?

“Yeah. My special delivery came today,” JP says, following me over to it. The piano is set up in the corner of his living room, next to the large bank of windows overlooking the city. “I can finally play again, which I’ve been wanting to do.”

“I didn’t know you played,” I say in amazement. “How did I not know this?”

“I love music,” JP says, sitting down on the bench. He pauses for a moment, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt and revealing his powerful, tanned forearms and causing my pulse to burn in response.

I swear there is nothing sexier than powerful forearms.

“I have to keep some things for you to discover about me,” JP says. “I’d hate for you to lose interest.”

“I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

“Good,” JP says. “Here, have a seat. I learned something for you today.”

My heart is about to burst as I sit down next to him.

“What?” I ask, amazed.

“It’s a piece in your honor,” JP says, flipping some sheet music.

His fingers begin flying across the keys, and a familiar tune fills the air.

I lose my breath as I realize what it is.

It’s “Under the Sea” from the movie The Little Mermaid.

JP begins to sing the words, his deep baritone filling the air, and I know he learned this song for his mermaid.

Me.

I swallow down tears as I listen to him sing. He’s an accomplished pianist, his fingers moving effortlessly as he plays. JP is a brilliant, amazing man with many gifts to give.

And he’s giving me this song.

 

About the Author

I live in the Dallas area with my family. I enjoy clipping out recipes I will never get around to trying, working out, and chatting with friends on social media. I’m a hockey nut (Go Stars!) and watch as much as humanly possible. I also love shopping and fashion and admit to being obsessed with whatever the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing. In addition to be obsessed with the Duchess, I’m equally obsessed with any show or cookbook featuring Gordon Ramsay.

Links

Website/Blog – http://avenellis.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/@AvenEllis

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AvenEllis1

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7265661.Aven_Ellis

Amazon Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aven-

Ellis/e/B00GHUYO90/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1455968038&sr=1-1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/avenellis/

 

Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B073SG76TY/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073SG76TY?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B073SG76TY&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35624713-playing-defense

 

Playing Defense Book Cover Playing Defense
Dallas Demons #5
Aven Ellis
Soul Mate Publishing, LLC
27/09/2017
238

After a string of bad set-ups and boring dates, Reese Brannon is done with men. She’s focused on her job as a fitness model and blogger. Her life in the city is fun. She’s young. There’s no need to look for a man because she doesn’t want one. Especially when relationships usually end in heartbreak.

Jean-Pierre Rochat—known as JP— is done with women. All this Swiss hockey player has ever wanted is to fall in love, but his relationships never end with a happily ever after. Believing he’s always going to be dealt the friend card, JP is over it. If he’s going to be stuck in the friend zone, he’ll keep things casual for his new endgame.

But will one hot Dallas summer night change everything for Reese and JP?

Because when the two meet again when JP returns for hockey season, Reese finds her attraction to him hasn’t waned since their first meeting. Charming and intelligent, JP is different in all the right ways, but Reese realizes letting him in will make her vulnerable, something that terrifies her. JP never forgot Reese from their initial introduction last winter, and the sparks fly for him even more so the second time. But with Reese, his thoughts are anything but casual . . .

Can JP and Reese let their guards down to take a chance on love? Or will this simply be a game of playing defense?

BLOG TOUR: Christmas at Mistletoe Cove – Holly Martin

BLOG TOUR: Christmas at Mistletoe Cove – Holly Martin

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove takes us back to Hope Island and some old favourites.

This time we follow Eden and her best friend Dougie. They have been best friends since they were children, but Eden has been in love with him for the last 12 years but feels that Dougie doesn’t feel the same for her. All is ok whilst he was living in New York as she could forget about him and get on with her life, but when Dougie decides to move back to Hope Island, Eden begins to question whether she can see him every day and him dating other women.

It was great being back on Hope Island and meeting up with Bella, Isaac and the gang. I love how Holly manages to seamlessly interlink the different stories so you feel as though you have never been away. I love finding out what’s been going on and developments in the lives of my favourite characters, but also seeing life on Hope Island from a different perspective.

We met Eden and Dougie in the previous Hope Island books and they were characters whom were easily likeable and I was thrilled to finally be able to read their story.

Holly manages to create such beautiful stories, the characters are always realistic and easily relatable. The plots are always well thought out, beautifully descriptive and take me as the reader, on a roller coaster ride of emotion.

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove was no exception. I fell in love with the Island and the islanders all over again. Holly had me hooked from page one, her beautifully descriptive and easy writing style made this an enjoyable read. The words flowed and weaved their magic, portraying scenes which quite literally blew my mind. As always I can vividly picture the scenes and the characters, Holly’s ability to tell a tale is incredible. I was hooked, reading late in to the night, desperate to see where Holly would take me next.

I love learning more about he characters and discovering how their lives develop and their relationships build and grow. Holly has an amazing ability to draw the reader in, with her catchy plots and side stories and interlinking lives, making this, as is the case with all her books a compelling read.

Even if you haven’t read the other books in the series, don’t wait. Pick this up. You won’t be sorry! Not only do you have gorgeous locations, fascinating characters and relationships, but you also have the added bonus of Christmas cheer and sparkle. What else can you ask for? This is definitely a book to be on your Christmas wish list. This is a compelling and beautifully written Christmas book, guaranteed to add some sparkle and joy to your life this Christmas. It certainly put a smile on my face.

I hope there is more to come from Hope Island 🙂

Author Bio:

Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hollymartinauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HollyMAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hollymartin_author/

Amazon Links:

UK  http://amzn.to/2tlQlK7 
US  http://amzn.to/2subuyR

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove Book Cover Christmas at Mistletoe Cove
Holly Martin
Bookouture
22/09/2017
287

Christmas has arrived at Hope Island, promising snowflakes, surprises and plenty of seasonal joy. So snuggle up and fall in love at Mistletoe Cove …

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea. 

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is like a warm hug on a cold winter’s day. The perfect treat this Christmas for fans of Debbie Johnson, Cathy Bramley and Miranda Dickinson.

BLOG TOUR: Race To The Kill – Helen Cadbury

BLOG TOUR: Race To The Kill – Helen Cadbury

Race to the Kill is the final installment in the Sean Denton series of books. During a busy night shift, Sean is approached by a woman asking for help. What they stumble upon is more than either he or his partner could have anticipated. As they delve in to the events at Chasebridge High School, the local Greyhound stadium becomes embroiled in the investigation, leading Sean on an investigation looking right in to the heart of the community in which he grew up.

Race to the Kill is a fantastic crime novel. From page one I was hooked and found myself desperately reading late in to the night so as to discover the secrets within the pages. Helen Cadbury managed to weave a fantastic plot with a number of different character points of views and stories which tied up seamlessly to give an explosive, edge of the seat ending. Each character and story had its place and all added to the suspense and overall build up to the finale. The detail was mind blowing and no corner was left unturned.

I loved the diverse characters in the book, each I felt had their place within the plot and were well executed. I loved Sean Denton, he was a fantastic protagonist and I loved uncovering his past and learning more about his past and how all of this led to man he was becoming. Sean was a character whom was easily likeable, I found him realistic and I enjoyed reading from his point of view. The only character in this book which I didn’t particularly like was his partner, the crime scene investigator. I felt she thought herself to be superior and actually she wasn’t a very likeable character.

I loved the inclusion of his younger sister and the family dynamics this brought to the plot. This was a book that went so much deeper than just a who done it, delving in to family dynamics, murder, homelessness and even refugees.

Race to the Kill is a superb piece of writing, which delivered page after page. I was hooked, the words flowed effortlessly, weaving its magic and enabling me to imagine vividly the scenes as they occurred. I have not yet read any of the other books in this series, but I certainly will be reading them now. Cadbury is a talented writer and this is a book to be devoured and enjoyed time and time again. While Cadbury may no longer be with us, her words are sure to be heard by many for years to come and her talent and ability to weave such a compelling read will live on.

RIP Helen, thank you for sharing with us your words and for giving us Sean Denton x

 

Race to the Kill Book Cover Race to the Kill
Sean Denton
Helen Cadbury
Allison & Busby
21/09/2017
350

It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.

BLOG BLITZ: Summer at Buttercup Beach – Holly Martin

BLOG BLITZ: Summer at Buttercup Beach – Holly Martin

Holly Martin is back with another delicious read that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. We are once again back on the gorgeous and idyllic Hope Island, this time with the focus on Freya and Roma; both of whom appeared in Spring at Blueberry Bay. We also meet up with some of our old favourites and get to see what has happened since we last visited.

Freya arrived on Hope Island following her relationship break down, she finds a job with Rome and discovers a love of working with glass. Her whole life becomes entwined with Rome and Hope Island. Rome is her best friend and despite knowing from past experience that she shouldn’t have all her eggs in one basket, Freya is drawn to Rome. But as her feelings blossom she is unsure of Rome’s feelings for her and begins to second guess the briefest of touches and the looks. WIll Freya get her happy ending? Rome comes with some painful baggage and is he ready to open his heart again?

I loved Summer at Buttercup Beach, from the beginning I was drawn in to the beautiful beach setting and the beautiful Hope Island. Holly creates a magical atmosphere where it feels as though anything is possible. I loved being able to revisit the Island and its picturesque setting. Holly’s description are so beautiful and paint such a vivid picture I could easily imagine the scenes.

The characters as always are easy to love, I love meeting old and new characters and discovering their pasts. We met Freya and Rome previously so it was nice to have that back knowledge but then building on that information and discovering this whole other side to the person. I love the fact that Holly uses dual perspective, enabling me as the reader to see the story from both sides and discovering little gems of information.

I loved Freya from the start, she had this likeable quality to her and I felt the need to protect her. I could see early on she had feelings for Rome and I was desperate for her to act on these feelings and hopefully get her happy ending. It was clear he adored her but her vision was clouded by her past. As for Rome, oh man he is literally a god. He is the man of my dreams. Rome, like Freya has a past which has left him heart broken, but it was clear early on that him and Freya were destined to be together. I was desperate for them to realise this fact and that both had feelings for each other.

But things are never simple! Holly has a plot which flows beautifully, building suspense and throwing in some wicked plot twists which kept me on the hooked and desperately reading on late in to the night, desperate to see where their story would take me next and whether they would finally both get the happy ending they deserved.

Summer at Buttercup Beach is a beautiful summer read, perfect for those long summer days. This book delivers on every level, with suspense and plot twists, as well a magical romantic feeling weaving its way through the pages.

Holly is one of my favourites authors and never fails to put a smile on my face. I hope to catch up with Hope Island and its residents again soon.

Summer at Buttercup Beach Book Cover Summer at Buttercup Beach
Hope Island
Holly Martin
Bookouture
30/06/2017
292

Pull up a deck chair and bask in the beautiful sunshine on Buttercup Beach. The sand is warm, the sea is sparkling blue and romance is sizzling in the air…

For two years Freya Greene has hidden the fact that she’s totally and utterly in love with her best friend Rome Lancaster. It’s not been easy – they work together in his glasswork business, she lives above his workshop and, he’s completely gorgeous. But Rome has never shown any sign of returning those feelings. Until now…

Lately they’ve shared affectionate touches and words heavy with meaning. Yet Freya knows Rome has a damaged heart. After losing his fiancé in a tragic accident, he’s not allowed himself to fall in love.

Freya has already had her heart broken by a man who couldn’t let go of a past love. Can she risk it happening again? Rome and Freya have a friendship that could blossom into something more. Are they both brave enough to take that chance?

Fall in love on Hope Island with the perfect romantic story to escape into this summer. For fans of Miranda Dickinson, Sarah Morgan and Jane Costello.

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