#Throwback Thursday for CrossFire #MysteryThriller by Jaye Marie

 

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DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits. Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.

The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems. Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job.

Book Excerpt:

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…


 

#Writephoto ~ Destination

Thursday photo prompt: Destination #writephoto

 

 

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Image by scvincent.com

 

For visually challenged writers, the image shows a path between an avenue of trees. Shadows from hidden sunlight fall across the path, but mist obscures the way forward…

 

Through the sunlit cathedral

Could I be looking at the mists of Avalon?

Are Arthur and Merlin waiting beyond the veil?

If I continue walking, would I finally find Camelot?

Would the true mysteries be revealed to me?

My heart was pounding, my footsteps slow to a crawl

If I entered the mist, would I return, would I want to?

Part of me willed the mist to clear, to see nothing more

than the continuing avenue of gold tipped trees

I reached the tree where the half-clipped moon shone through

I stood still, hardly breathing

My soul longing to walk through the mist

Find Camelot and beg the Gods to let me stay.

My true thinking mind knew better

Some mysteries must remain unknown…

Anita Signature

 

#writephoto

#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Not My Life, by Anita Dawes #Fiction,YA

SOMEONE HAUNTS Sarah’s dreams, someone who looks just like her.

Her name is Kelly and her life is a nightmare.

Are these dreams a message for Sarah’s future, or a glimpse of Kelly’s past?

Or are they both trapped in a world that isn’t their own?


Excerpt from ‘Not My Life’

Their house seemed like any other house, without them in it.  As I walked around to the back door, I couldn’t believe my luck at finding the small side window in the hall was open a crack.  You had to get close to notice it.  The question was, could I climb in?  Did I still remember how?  It had been so long since I had climbed anything.  Looking around, there was no one in sight.  I found a milk crate, one big enough to give me the boost I needed.

Climbing through the small opening, which in a few more months would be impossible, I thought of Jimmy.  He would kill me if he found out, because of the baby.  Mother would simply kill me before dying of embarrassment.  Dad would probably hang his head in a dark corner of the pub and wonder where they had gone wrong.

Once inside, I looked around.  Curious as to what they thought was a normal home.  Mother had mentioned that Sally Woodford would be giving up work soon, as he didn’t want her continuing in the Bank, carrying heavy money bags around. I was surprised he hadn’t thought of a way for her to carry them home, judging by the video collection I was standing in front of. 

There were many old gangster movies; I recognised some of the titles.  I also found several ‘video nasty’s’.  There was ‘Spit on your grave’, ‘Silence of the lambs’ and ‘The Devils’, amongst others. No romance or comedy, nothing light-hearted.  I wondered if Sally watched them with him.  Did they sit here late at night, imagining themselves in the lead roles?

I would have liked to find the place covered in dust and cobwebs, but the house was clean and tidy. Downstairs, there was a faint odour, which gave me a funny taste in my mouth, but I put it down to what I felt about the house.

There was little in the way of ornaments, two cookbooks, an A-Z, and one large, heavy book on old English tortures. Complete with horrible pictures of the rack and other devices.  With details of exactly what happened to those unfortunate enough to fall foul of them.  Horrible things done with hot coals and pokers; it turned my stomach.  I knew I shouldn’t be looking at this disgusting stuff.  A history book or not, it should be burnt.

Making sure to leave everything as it was, I tried the front door and found it hadn’t been dead-bolted.  I couldn’t believe he had been so slap-dash, after telling my mother she was far too trusting.  Open windows and unlocked doors were an invitation to those less desirable.  That was me; I was undesirable.  I was in their home, their sanctuary, a place I shouldn’t be unless invited.

On the way back to my house, I felt decidedly odd and my legs were shaking. People passing by had me jumping out of my skin.  My heart was racing, adrenaline rushing, terrifying and exciting me all at the same time.  Do burglars feel this way, I wondered; when they sneak out with their ill-gotten gains?  Is that what makes them do it again?  For the feeling of excitement, as well as the family silver?

Hoping no one had seen me leave, I crept into my own house.  I couldn’t be sure, but I thought the neat curtains of the house opposite had twitched.  I could always say I had absent-mindedly walked through the wrong gate.

Our front door was unlocked as usual; something that had me wondering if my mother could ever change the habits of a lifetime.  I found her in the living room knitting baby things, all pale yellow and white. I could have told her to go ahead and buy blue wool.

I sat in the room with her, flicking through a magazine to the sound of clicking knitting needles, my mind unable to shake the images I had seen in his book.  One, in particular, stuck fast in my mind. It was a picture of a merry-go-round, a high wooden platform with cruel metal spikes.  How it was meant to be ridden was left to the reader’s imagination, but the poles protruding from the side of the platform allowed the men to rotate the device.  Several images of how it worked flashed through my mind. The caption underneath the picture read, ‘Round and round she goes, where she stops, no one knows.’

The magazine was open on my lap, but I had no idea how long I had been staring into space when mother said, ‘Penny for them, Sarah?’

As if I could tell her what I had done, what I had seen in that book?


 

The Dying of the Light…

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The Dying of the Light

The trick is to avoid all the things she knows she cannot do anymore, but this is easier to do than keeping her hands out of the biscuit tin.

She is becoming an expert at ignoring the elephant in the room. She sees him, watching her with that wise knowing look in his eyes, but if she doesn’t acknowledge him or admit his presence to anyone, she can go on pretending that everything is fine.

Pretend that the painful, spiteful remarks don’t slice her soul to the bone, making her want to curl up and die in a corner, or scream louder than the pain, in an effort to keep her temper from overwhelming and drowning her.

Somehow, she maintains a humorous attitude, something she has carefully cultivated. Smiling at her tormentors, even laughing at their cruel jokes and the things they say. She has learned that to show the damage they do only increases their enjoyment at her distress.

She knows they are waiting for her to die, to be finally rid of her and the elephant in the room, the constant reminder that they too will grow old.

She must ignore them, for she cannot find the will or the strength to walk away from them. One of these days she hopes she will manage to summon some vestige of effort, before her time runs out. She dreams of spending her last days in peace and tranquillity, far from all the hatred and cruelty and the critical gaze of the large grey animal in the corner of the room…

Our Review for Tales from an Irish Garden by Sally Cronin #FantasyRomance @sgc58

 

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The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature.

Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.
As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell.

This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians.

(Lerpersian, I have discovered, is another name for a Leprechaun.)

 

Our Review

 

Tales from an Irish Garden begins at Christmas time in the magical Spanish garden. Queen Filigree was looking forward to the festivities, but bad news arrived first.

The Queen and all her subjects could no longer stay in Spain and would have to leave their beautiful home and find another with the help of the Storyteller.

At the eleventh hour, another location was found in Ireland, where they will need to adapt to the new surroundings and very different weather.

How this was achieved was beautifully described in perfect detail in a series of magical stories. I loved all these stories, but will always remember one, The Kindness of Mice…

Excerpt from The Kindness of Mice…

After the piglet race, the leaves in the forest and the magic garden began to turn brown and cold winds whipped across the treetops with a whistling that alerted all who lived in this special place. Stores were being collected and added to special chambers in the bowels of the royal palace. Seeds, dried summer fruits, flagons of amber nectar and small hessian bags of the finest flour, milled along the river to the south of the forest. The Storyteller had recommended this particular mill because of fine qualities of Herbert who ran it with his son Calum.

One night as the storyteller joined the queen and her husband for a light supper, he related the story of how mice, which are usually the much preyed upon pests in most mills, were actually protected and revered in this particular grain crushing establishment. It is common for mice to be caught up in the hand threshing at harvest time and be swept into the back of horse drawn carts that transported the grain to the mill. Usually several cats, and rat-catching dogs, would patrol the building and its surroundings; grabbing any unsuspecting rodent silly enough to hitch a ride. However, Herbert was a very kind and gentle man, and did not want to cause unnecessary suffering to these little creatures.

Before any crushing of the grain was begun, he removed small stones, leaves and other unwanted materials through giant sifters. There were usually four or five of the little rodents left running around looking for an escape from the high sided prison. They were scooped up by a leather gloved hand and placed gently into a wooden box with holes drilled into the sides. At the end of each day, the miller’s son Calum would harness their horse Ned to the cart and head off to the next county. There he would open the lids, tipping the mice out into a wild meadow that would never be mown, and was covered by luscious wild grains and flowers.

You might think that this is rather laborious, and that a couple of feisty farm cats would have made short shrift of the forty or so mice that the miller caught every day. However, there was a special reason for his thoughtfulness. When he was a small boy, his parents had been very poor. His father had broken his leg badly during harvesting one year and could no longer work. His mother would toil in the fields instead, but if they didn’t save enough or grow enough in their small garden, it would be a very lean winter. One Christmas night the little boy was huddled in his cot, shivering with hunger and the cold. In the flickering candlelight he saw movement on the old stool by his bed. At first, he thought he was dreaming, but rubbing his eyes in amazement, he saw three mice scurrying back and forth up the legs and down. When he looked closer, he saw that they were leaving little morsels of bread and bits of apple. As you can imagine he wolfed down the food, and through the night it kept coming. In the morning he told his mother of this strange event and she felt his forehead fearing that he had caught a fever.

She went downstairs to boil some water to give him and was astounded to see that the kitchen table was laden with all sorts of crumbs and bits and bobs of fruit, including some late blackberries. By the fire were hundreds of small pieces of coal and with a shaking hand she placed some on the fire with a few sticks collected from the forest. She went out to the shed where their one hen was kept safe at night to find an egg still warm to the touch.

She found a little drop of brandy in the bottom of a long-discarded bottle and took out the packet of lard and a small pack of flour she had managed to buy for their Christmas dinner. Putting all the offerings and the scraps she had found into a large bowl, she mixed it together with the egg. She used a little lard to grease an iron pot and poured the mixture in, tying muslin over the top to seal it. She put a large pot of well-water on to boil and placed the bowl over the top to steam. That Christmas lunch was the best ever, and the pudding was delicious. The family sat back with full stomachs for the first time in weeks and all of them gave thanks to the little rodents that had showed such kindness to them. It was clearly a change-of-luck gift, as the day after Christmas, a knock on the door startled them as they sat eating the leftovers in front of the fire. Herbert’s father limped across the stone floor; partially opening the door so as not to let the cold wind into the house. He found a tall man, finely and warmly dressed, on the doorstep carrying a large hamper and who, smiling at the bemused man, asked if Betty was home. On hearing her name, he ran to the door and flung herself into the stranger’s arms. ‘Oh, my goodness, can it really be you, Ciaran… I thought you had been lost at sea?’

The tale took two hours in the telling, but to cut things short, since I know you are keen to know more about the mice. It turns out that Ciaran was Herbert’s uncle, who had been shipwrecked many years earlier and given up for dead. In fact, he had been washed up on a beautiful desert island, and in the course of his explorations, had discovered a chest of treasure. He had been rescued this summer and had returned to Ireland a wealthy man. You see what I mean about the change-of-luck gift from the mice.

Ciaran bought and renovated the local mill and Herbert’s father worked alongside him. Once he left school, he joined them, and when they passed away, he was left with this excellent business. As his father had done before him, he swore never to harm a mouse, and over the years thousands had been rescued from the grain instead of being put through the hopper onto the grinding stone. Eventually, fewer and fewer mice found their way to the mill. The areas that Calum deposited them in were left wild and undisturbed, with plenty of food all year round and plenty of safe places to nest and bring baby mice up safely. Offers were made to buy the land by the farmers in the area, but they were always told that the land was not for sale at any cost. If you are wondering where the rest of the treasure went that was found on that far of desert island, wonder no more. It bought many acres of meadow where not just mice, but animals, birds and insects thrived whilst enriching the surrounding countryside with their pollen gathering and droppings.

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CrossFire…with poem by Anita #MysteryThriller

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CrossFire

Snow has a target on his back

A female finger on the bow.

He may not have long to go

This life a clock ticking fast.

Blood and sand made of paint.

Does Kate still factor in his fate?

Alas, she is taken by the wind

A new female wants her pound of flesh

With arrow poised, she lets it fly

Snow is hit, his trap undone

Ruth has fled, now on the run…

©Anita Dawes

 

Excerpt from CrossFire

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

#Throwback Thursday ~Two Brilliant Reviews for Let it Go!

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I was reminded today of just how far we have come with our writing and all that is involved with it and wanted to share our pride in our accomplishments.

Still a long way to go, but loving what you do is a lovely way to do it!

(we didn’t do it all by ourselves, so we thank everyone who helped us along the way!)

 You read about families where everyone is happy and life is wonderful.
That wasn’t my family.
My mother coped patiently with a drunken, obsessive gambler of a husband and a daughter with an insatiable sexual appetite. I loved my father, but he kept us one step away from the poor house. Loving my sister was harder, basically because she hated me and constantly brought trouble to our door.
Me? I couldn’t wait to grow up and live my own life.
Then everything changed. Dad won a guest house in a card game, and suddenly we were off to a new life in Cornwall. A beautiful place, steeped in legend and mystery.
Would trouble leave us alone now, or was it merely biding its time?

Excerpt from Let it Go

We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.

Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum lands one of her punches. This is pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.

It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages; mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.

I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.

She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door.

Sally, my older sister by two years, came out of her room to see what was happening. At seventeen, she thought she’d been around the block and knew everything. As for the block, she’d been around it all right. There was no good way to describe my sister, other than to call her a tart. Right then, she looked the part too, with her smeared makeup and messy hair. Hanging over the bannister in her underwear, she told mum to kick his no good arse back out the door. Mum looked up at us with rage in her eyes and we both fled, creeping back when we felt it safe, even sliding down a few stairs to hear better.

They were in the kitchen now and something wasn’t right. Mum’s voice sounded cold, as though talking through ice-cubes. We heard her say she was leaving him, after twenty years of going nowhere she’d had enough. Then silence. Why weren’t they speaking, shouting or smashing things like they normally did?

I sat there wishing I could see through walls. I wanted to go in and say something, remind her that dad wasn’t a bad man. Stupid and unlucky maybe, but it wasn’t his fault all his schemes and dreams came to nothing.

The silence frightened me. Mum couldn’t possibly leave him. She loved him, had stood by his crazy ideas all this time. Turning to Sally, I whispered, ‘We’ve got to do something. Put some clothes on, hurry, before Dad passes out and mum goes to sleep on the thoughts in her head.’

Sally stopped me from standing up, pulling me backwards, knocking the lower part of my back against the stairs. ‘We can’t, Mary. He’ll say something stupid in a minute, then she’ll go for him. You know what happened last time. You got mum’s elbow in your face, couldn’t see for a week.’

I looked at her, seeing her differently for a moment. Unable to stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said, ‘I didn’t know you cared.’

‘Of course I care, you stupid cow. You’re my kid sister.’

Was that a hurt look I saw, or another of her acting games? I tried again to stand. Feeling her hand on my shoulder, I moved faster, not wanting to be pulled down again. My foot slipped forward on the edge of the carpet and gravity did the rest, pulling me headlong down the rest of the steps. I heard Sally yell, then a chair scrape against the kitchen floor. My head hurt. I tried to move, and then someone turned out the lights.

I woke up on our living room sofa with dad holding my hand. Mum was putting a cold flannel on my head. Trying to move shot a pain through the top of my head, much as I imagined dad must feel when mum slaps him with whatever comes to hand.

‘Lie still, Mary.’ Dad said. ‘Everything’s all right. Hard heads run in the family.’

From somewhere in the room I heard Sally scoff. I struggled to sit up and could see her leaning against the doorframe, picking at her nails.

Looking dad square in the face, I said, ‘It’s not all right. Didn’t you hear mum say she’s leaving you? Couldn’t you hear the difference in her voice?’

Dad put the palm of his hand on my cheek and smiled. The smile that made you believe in angels, and held mum to him all these years.

‘Not to worry, Mary. I have something here that will put the warmth back in her voice.’ Taking some legal papers and a bunch of keys from his pocket, he gave them to mum and said, ‘Read it, Margaret.’

Waiting for mum to say something, to let us in on what could only be another of dad’s get-rich-schemes, seemed like waiting for hell to freeze over.

She read them once, and knowing dad of old, read them again. ‘Cornwall,’ she said finally. ‘A broken down guesthouse.’ She waved the paper at dad. ‘How did you get this with no money?’

‘Playing cards.’ Dad said. ‘I won it from old Tom. That’s where I’ve been, Cornwall, to look at the place. Margaret, it’s beautiful. Overlooks the ocean – a lick of paint and it’ll be good as new.’

‘So, Michael Flanagan. How long has this place been closed, did you think to ask?’

‘A year or so.’

‘Right. So with eyes full of beer, you managed to figure out it’s a lick of paint we’ll be needing, nothing more?’ The temper still showed on her face and her words had thorns. It was no accident she had been born with red hair.

‘Don’t start, Margaret. Can’t you see that luck has finally found us? It’s what you’ve always wanted, to run our own place. And the money we get from this house will get us started. The girls can help out, even get paid for the work they do around the place.’

‘I don’t see myself as a chambermaid.’ Sally moaned, folding her arms across her chest like mum. She straightened her back, trying to look tough.

Dad spun on her. ‘Better than lying on your back with God knows who, whenever the mood takes you!’

Sally stormed off and I heard the bedroom door slam shut as dad went on about her going the same way as his sister, Aunt Vivian, known hereabouts as the local bike.

Mum said he should hold his tongue.

‘Can’t do it, woman. I won’t see one of my own daughters end up on the same road. I’ll be putting the house on the market first thing in the morning. We’ve talked about nothing else for the past ten years. Now, it’s been handed to us on a plate.’

From the look on mum’s face, I could tell she was beginning to think it might be a good idea. After all, we had nothing to lose. It had plenty of rooms and hadn’t cost dad a penny, and this house would give them the money to do it up. But what on earth did they know about running a guest house? I decided that now wasn’t a good time to ask…


Two Wonderful Reviews!

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for fans of family dramas and coming-of-age stories

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Fifteen-year-old Mary’s life is turned upside down when her father wins a large house in Cornwall in a card game, and her parents decide to up sticks from South West London, move down to Cornwall,  and run a bed & breakfast boarding house.  Mary does not have a good relationship with her sister Sally but is particularly close to her elderly and infirm grandmother (Nan).  Nan decides to make the biggest change of all and move with the family to live in a caravan at the end of the garden.
Mary finds an old diary written by a girl her own age who used to live in the house.   She reads of a particular event in the diary that happened years before, which she cannot get out of her mind.  Mary has a need to follow up the event and finds a new friend, Mark, who has knowledge of the local area and all its mysteries to help her in her quest.
The author has an obvious love of Cornwall, and this is evident throughout the book.   I enjoyed reading about the shifting family dynamics, Mary’s relationship with her sister, and the new life experiences that she had to learn to cope with.  I can recommend this four star read for fans of women’s fiction, family dramas, and coming-of-age stories.  There are a few grammatical errors, but they did not distract me from the story.  Well done!

 5 stars A fantastic look at family relationships

Format: Kindle Edition

A fantastic look at family dynamics through the eyes of Mary, a fifteen-year-old who is older and wiser than her years. When her father wins a guest house in a card game, Mary’s has to adjust to a new life in Cornwall. In addition to her parents and sister, Mary also has her beloved grandmother, Nan, to aid in that adjustment.

This book is filled with wonderful characters and effortless writing. I adored the relationship between Mary and Nan. As narrator, Mary does an excellent job in allowing us to see the world through her eyes. From the vivid place descriptions to the strengths and weakness in the people around her, including her own family, the reader sees scars, faults and triumphs.

The plot thread with Mary’s sister Sally, and how the family rallies around her when she runs afoul of three local women is especially strong. I also liked the thread with Spike, an unexpected “lodger” and how his storyline turned out. The author has a great style and hooked me immediately. I plan to seek out more of her books. Consider me a fan!

 

These reviews really thrilled us and made our writing life so much more rewarding. Everyone should review the books they read. It is easy to do and brings so much joy to writers everywhere!

#Writer’s Wednesday… #Simple by Anita Dawes #Mystery #PsychologicalSuspense

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Chapter One

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the woodpile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers.

 

Jack was Gran’s firstborn, a mean son of a bitch.  Then came Simple who was soft in the head and lived in a dream world.  Tommy, my favourite, was the youngest and nowhere near as bad as Jack.  They were supposed to make sure Simple stayed away from town.  Gran never could bear the thought of Simple going anywhere near there, but never let on why.  The beatings came when he forgot, and somehow Gran always found out.  I figured she should give up on the beatings; it wasn’t helping him to remember to stay away.

I knew why the others went to town so often.  The girls there let them do whatever they had a mind to.  I couldn’t figure why Simple sneaked off; not for girls, I knew that much.  Tommy and Jack had teased him enough about Lizzie, the day they caught him spying on her as she washed in the river.

Watching Gran beat Simple made me think back to the day I lay by the river. I was trying to catch hold of the whispers in my head while looking at the reflection of the clouds in the water.  It was something I liked to do and usually had the place to myself.

That particular day, I had company.  Lizzie was taking a bath and Simple was watching from the bushes.  Without warning, the boys appeared and dragged Simple out of the bushes he thought hid him from sight.  Jack grabbed Simple viciously between the legs, saying it was time he knew how to use it.  They called for Lizzie to come out of the water.

I hid behind a rock, too scared to run back to the cabins.  It wouldn’t matter if I told Gran anyway, she’d say they needed their fun and to let them be.

Tommy helped Lizzie up onto the bank.  She stood there naked, her dark hair dripping.  The water running down her skinny legs made muddy pools at her feet.  Jack stopped her from picking up her clothes.  ‘You won’t be needin’ them just yet, Lizzie.  We’re goin’ to have us a little fun.  It’s Simple’s birthday.’

‘No it ain’t, and I ain’t doing what you have a mind to.  Not with Simple.’

Jack took hold of her arms and roughly pulled her close to him.  ‘You’re mine and you’ll do like I say, missy.  You’re his birthday present.’

Simple tried to move away but Jack held him back; telling him he didn’t want to miss out on such a fine gift.  He threw Lizzie to the ground like a rag doll.  I watched, too afraid to move.  Jack had ears like a bat if I moved an inch he would hear me.  Fear and fascination swam together in my head; knitting an invisible chain that held me fast behind the rock.

Jack stood between her legs and unfastened his belt.  He undid his belt, pushed his pants down and fell on Lizzie, pumping his body up and down.  Tommy pulled Simple down on the ground beside them, slapping Jack’s bare behind.  ‘See, Simple, this is how you please the girls.’

There was much grunting and groaning before Jack let out an even bigger groan and rolled away from Lizzie, his thing still dripping as he pulled up his pants. Tommy pushed Simple down on top of Lizzie and he lay there like a big lump.  As Jack pulled him to his knees, a clump of Simple’s dark brown hair came away in his hand.

‘You see how I did it, now set to, before I tell Gran what we saw you tryin’ to do in town again.’

I wish I knew what Simple did that got Gran so mad, so fired up about him being in town.  He was crying like a baby, tears and snot sliding down his face.  Jack kicked him viciously and he fell forward, stopping himself from flattening Lizzie by putting his hands out, hitting the ground so hard the dry dirt sprung up between his fingers.

I wished there was something I could do to help Simple, but Tommy and Jack had been at Gran’s grog again and I knew if I showed my face, they would do the same to me.  Lizzie seemed to have gotten over the idea of Simple getting at her, giggling as Tommy pulled Simple’s pants off.  I couldn’t bear to watch anymore and turned my face away, but I heard every sound that escaped from Simple’s lips.  I wondered what thoughts were running through his head if any.

For days after, I couldn’t bear to look at Simple or talk to him and knew how much he missed that.  I was the only one who spent the time of day with him.  The others always teased him, saying words over and over before moving on to the next the way Simple did.  I spent hours getting him to speak slowly, and with me, his stammer wasn’t so bad. When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.  Most times he gave up trying to say what was in his head.

The back of Gran’s cabin was the only place to find any shade unless you took off into the woods, which wasn’t always a good idea.  Folk around here tend to look out for their own and looking out for the neighbours wasn’t their way of doing things, especially the Spiers.  We’d been having trouble with them for as long as I could remember.

I sat with my back against rough, weathered timber that had been cut from the woods, grateful to be alone to hear the wind rush through the trees, whispering my name.  Emily, the name my heart recognised. Not Leanne, the one they called me.  I got to thinking that Gran would have renamed me, not wanting anything to do with town folk or the names they called their children.  Seeing as how Uncle Jimmy had let slip that my folks had come from the town, I got to thinking how on earth Gran could be mine.  I figured the only way was one of my parents must have been kin to my grandpa.  That could account for the way she looked at me sometimes as if I didn’t really belong.  Part outsider; which is how I felt most of the time.

This got me looking closer at Gran’s boys.  They didn’t look like they come from the same seed either.  Jack, mean and dark, had the best looks. Tommy was the just the opposite.  Fair and plain, as if they forgot to give him character.  I’d been told that Simple was soft in the head because Gran had been too old for birthing. That couldn’t be the true reason, for Tommy was all right. Didn’t matter to me though, I liked him the way he was; all soft and gentle, yet big enough to make me feel safe.  Big enough to squash the rest of them flat should he take a mind to.  Reckon that’s why Uncle Jimmy keeps clear of Simple.  I heard him tell Jack one day that Simple would snap soon enough with all the teasing he gets.

I told Gran once that sometimes I thought I could hear my Ma calling me by another name, could feel her reaching for me and almost make out her face.  Gran said I must be getting soft in the head like Simple and warned me not to talk rubbish again.  I knew better than try.  She would whop me like she always did when something didn’t please her.  It didn’t pay to have an opinion or argue with Gran about anything.

Lizzie said it was just my imagination playing tricks on me, but I didn’t believe any of it.  I felt it in my heart, not my head, and it wasn’t the summer heat frying my brains as Tommy suggested.

Gran said she would be making one of her rare trips to town soon.  I would be twelve next month and according to her, a young woman needs new clothes.  This meant material for Gran to make a new dress, two if I was lucky.  Gran hated going to town, but she knew you couldn’t trust men folk to choose anything.  I knew how hard this would be for her and my heart reached out to hug her, my body slow to follow.

Gran waved the air in front of her to keep me away.  ‘No need to thank me, girl.’

I wished what I felt inside didn’t always show so quick on my face.  My life would be a mite happier if it didn’t.

Lizzie had told Gran about the young’un she was expecting and Gran wasn’t best pleased.  Didn’t matter who the pa was, she didn’t ask.  All she said was, it had better be stronger than the last one. ‘You ain’t made for young’uns, Lizzie. Age has taken your best chances. This has to be the last one, that’s if you can keep it from falling away before its time.’

In the past, Lizzie had managed to keep one until it was three months old.  It was sick from the start, Gran said.  And Lizzie too foolish to give it the right kind of care.  No milk to speak of and she forgot about it for days on end.  Took off with Jack and left it crying.  I asked Gran why she didn’t take care of it, seeing as how she knew better.  It was a stupid question and I almost felt the heat from her eyes singe the hair on my arms.

‘The brat’s Lizzie’s, not mine,’ she snapped.

I couldn’t understand Gran’s way of thinking or feeling.  All hard and shrivelled, weren’t any softness about her, not even around the eyes.  Something bad must have happened to make her so hard.  There wasn’t anything I could do, no way for me to change her.  The child Lizzie lost had been buried just outside the clearing by a big old redwood.  I would sit there sometimes and lay a few wildflowers on the makeshift grave.  All Lizzie said was I was too soft to live in the woods. She didn’t seem to care about the loss.

‘Gran should’ve taken you to town years ago, left you outside the church.’  She often said that when feeling particularly mean.

When Gran didn’t ask who the pa might be, I wondered if she might have something to say if she knew it might be Simple.  I found myself hoping this one would be strong.  Having a baby around would be real nice.  I could help Lizzie take care of it.

Just then, Jack stormed into the cabin behind me, yelling about the Spiers’ messing with his traps again, taking his kills.  That I knew to be one mistake they would pay for.  Gran told him to hush up and let Jimmy take care of it when he got home.  Jack went on and on about the Spiers, he had a thing about them. Every time anything went wrong or the still broke, he would say they had been at it.

Gran told him he was too thick to take care of any one of them.

‘It’s no wonder you lost your kill, shouting your mouth off in town. Makin’ out like a big man, letting’ on where you left the traps.’

I heard Tommy ask how she knew.

‘It ain’t hard to figure, when she knows you couldn’t keep your mouth shut if she was to stitch it.’

Jack must have lost his temper and thrown a chair across the cabin, because something hit the side where I sat, listening.  The thought of Uncle Jimmy coming made the cool spot behind the cabin too cold and I moved off into the sun.

I wondered what he wanted, what brought him down from the mountains.  Jimmy was a mean one, even meaner than Jack was.  Tall and quiet, he liked killing, hunting things.  Animals, men, even bugs weren’t safe.  He would flatten anything that crossed his path, his hands quick as lightning, grabbing winged creatures from the air.  Didn’t seem to matter some of them might sting.

I saw him swallow a wasp once after teasing Simple with it.  Mostly he liked pulling the heads off his kills.  Said even a man ain’t nothing without it, get rid of the head, you get rid of trouble.  That’s what he believed.

His visits were always too long.  Tommy hated him and swore he would take off one day and never come back.  Gran laughed.  She’d heard him say it so often; she didn’t believe he had a mind to do it.  I could see in his eyes that one day he would, he was tired of living in fear of Jimmy and being in Jack’s shadow.

I thought about taking off some days.  Thing was, where to?  I guess Tommy had the same trouble.  Town was good for letting off steam, but the woods were home.  Clarksville was growing speedily, too fast for Gran’s liking. She said it was getting closer to the woods each year.  Full of outsiders thinking they can wander where they please and look down their noses at the way we live.  The sheriff was up here just last week, telling Gran I should be attending school.  She sent him off, saying I knew all I needed to.  School didn’t have anything she couldn’t put in my head.

There were times when I wondered if she was right.  Maybe I would have liked school, made friends of my own age.  Throwing the idea at Gran did no good at all; she had a thing about town folk.  Strange, when I’d heard Jimmy say that grandpa had been from Clarksville.

‘Your Gran liked town folk fine back then.  Never did say what changed her mind.’

Jimmy said grandpa died one winter, caught by one of his own traps. Wolves ate most of his body.  I could understand how this would make Gran sad, but I couldn’t make sense of the way she spoke about town and the folk that lived there. Outsiders, she called them.  There had to be a reason for the way she hated them.  I knew better than to ask, but by keeping my ears open, I would hear most things soon enough.

Jimmy had brought down two headless deer for Gran’s larder.  I wondered what he did with the heads.  Tommy said he ate them, but I figured he buried them, although I half wondered if Tommy was right.

Uncle Jimmy hadn’t been with us for more than a week, when the sheriff turned up again, warning Gran to have a word with her boys.

‘Ned Harrison’s been shooting’ his mouth off about Tommy, if he sets eyes on him again he’s gonna kill him. Says he’s been messing’ around with his wife.’

Jimmy stood there the whole time, his rifle cracked open across his arm.  The sun lighting up the fact the barrel weren’t empty.  It didn’t seem to worry the sheriff, he had his hand on the butt of his own gun, looking Gran in the eyes.  I could see Tommy hiding behind the water barrels while the sheriff tried explaining to Gran that he couldn’t keep an eye on Ned all the time.

‘Wouldn’t want your boy to lose his head over a piece of pussy.  Have a word with him, Ma’am.’  Touching the rim of his hat, he bid Gran good day.

I reckon he saw Tommy because he doffed his hat again as he passed the water barrels.

Tommy tried to get out of a beating by telling Gran the sheriff wanted to get it on with Ned’s wife himself.

‘Jealousy is all, Gran.  Ned ain’t gonna shoot no one, too full of grog mostly. When he ain’t drinking’ he’s sleeping’. ‘Lizabeth’s real nice Gran, I like her and old Ned ain’t gonna last forever the way he’s carrying’ on. I figured on movin’ in when he passes.’

‘Is that so?’  Gran said.  ‘Got a mind to help him on his way, bring more trouble that ain’t my doing’?’

‘No Ma.’  Tommy said, his eyes and voice pleading for her not to reach for the stick by her feet.  I could see in her eyes it was no good, she needed to whop him for reasons of her own…

Simple is just 99p this week… just saying!

#TuesdayBookBlog: Secrets by Anita Dawes #Psychological Suspense

We have decided to catch up with promoting some of our books that need a little extra feedback. I think Secrets is an unusual story for Anita,  in that it crosses several genres.

We would love to know what you think, so don’t be shy!

 

Many children have an invisible friend, and sometimes they can be a necessary part of a child’s life for many reasons.
But when this ‘friend’ starts to cause more than childish mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate.
Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem.
Her husband Jack was no help at all, dismissing her ideas as rubbish. But was he merely trying to hide a guilty secret? One that Danny’s new friend knew all about?

Amazon reviews

I’ve been thinking about this review for a few days. I finished Secrets a short while ago and I’ve been trying decide how to express what I felt about it, but now my heading really says it all. This is a strong and powerful story, very well told. The characters are well-drawn and empathic; you have to like and sympathise with them fully, and the main plot, being that of a child who has an invisible but somewhat malicious ‘friend’, is very compelling. If you enjoy and read a lot of paranormal suspense, then you will really love this book. It isn’t my usual choice but I still found myself ‘turning the pages’ on my Kindle till I reached the end. In fact, it is very good!

I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the suspense and excitement for the reader, so this review is quite short. However, I think Anita Dawes has tapped into subjects that are very topical today and it’s well worth reading this book to see what can happen when we bury secrets for too long …

 
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary + Well Written
 This was a beautifully written novel and flowed from chapter to chapter. Many children have an invisible friend and sometimes that can be a necessary part of a child’s life for various reasons. But when the “friend” starts to cause more than childish mischief, then it is time for the adults to do something about it. The characters in this book were well defined and I liked them all and felt empathy for all of them. This was a page-turner for me and I kept thinking there might be more sinister things going on, especially with the neighbor. I don’t want to give away too much, but I’d like to hear from other readers what they thought about the ending. An entertaining read. A 5 star from me.

Excerpt from Secrets…

The men began to dig, just to one side of the old barn by a broken down fence. She could just make out what was left of an old tree. Her curiosity strained just enough to keep her watching as Janet stepped out from the shadow of the house and took a few steps towards the men.

‘What you got there, buried treasure?’ she called to Tommy.

‘You hold your noise woman, I could always make this here hole big enough to put you in, now get on with you!’

She shrugged, picked up an old basket and walked off round the side of the house.

‘I couldn’t have done that,’ breathed Cathy. ‘I would want to have a look.’

‘Maybe she believes what Tommy said…’

‘Could be, I wouldn’t want to bump into him on a dark night. Did you get a load of his teeth?’

Maggie smiled in spite of herself. ‘I did, every dentists nightmare.’

The word sent a shiver down her spine.

After quite a pile of earth had been dug up, Jack threw his shovel aside and began pulling at something that was stuck in the ground.

Maggie felt sick. Where was the dignity? All she felt was the shame and sorrow of it all.

Tommy gave something a kick with his boot and Maggie felt herself flinch as a large, earth covered bundle came free from the grave. She couldn’t believe her eyes when Jack simply picked it up and carried it back across the field to the car. She watched him put it in the boot and noticed that Tommy was watching him too, before throwing the shovel and pick into the barn. He rinsed the mud from his boots with a hose outside the back door, then he came in and they heard him open the Aga.

‘He’s going to eat his lunch, for Gods sake!’ she said to Cathy. ‘How can he?’

Even as she said it, she realised that today of all days, anything was possible.

Jack was on his way back to the house when Janet appeared again. Waiting until she was sure he’d hear her, she asked,

‘Got what you came for, then?’

Trying to wipe the mud from his hands, he nodded.

‘Come inside and wash up.’ she said.

Jack looked up and caught Maggie’s face at the window. He felt sick to his stomach and didn’t want to look at her. He couldn’t believe what he had just done.

Janet squirted the hose over his shoes, soaking the bottom of his trousers and he held his hands under the stream of freezing cold water to get most of the mud of.

‘We’d better sit down.’ Maggie said, nudging Cathy towards a chair. ‘They’ll be here in a minute.’

They heard Janet tell Jack to use the sink in the small room behind the Aga. ‘But then, you’d know about that, wouldn’t you.’ she said. Seeing Tommy getting stuck into his food, she asked Jack if they would like some lunch before they go.

‘For God’s sake, don’t say yes.’ Maggie whispered, and Cathy held her breath waiting for his answer.

‘No thanks, we really do have to go. I’d like to get back home before it gets dark.’

Jack came into the living room and brought the smell of freshly dug soil with him. It was a smell Maggie usually liked, but not today. In her minds eye she could see the shallow grave, dark and forbidding, with white bones sticking out of the mud. How was she going to get into the car, knowing what was in the boot?

Our #Review for The Beast Within by Jacquie Biggar ~ #SuspenseActionThriller @JacqieBiggar

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When Julie Crenshaw is offered a news reporter’s job on beautiful Vancouver Island she didn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.
Connor O’Rourke has seen his share of human depravities during his fourteen years as a homicide detective, but is still sickened by the murderer terrorizing his island shores.
And threatening his key witness.
As the stakes rise, can two people get a second chance at love?
Or will a killer become the winner?

From USA Today Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar, Can two displaced angels save a woman from the clutches of a vicious psychopath?

The twists and turns in this story are amazing. Just when you think you know where the adventure is going, it switches to the unexpected. Definitely kept me entertained and on my toes!
Jacqui Nelson

THE BEAST WITHIN by Jacquie Biggar did not disappoint! These books are a great blend of contemporary romance with added suspense and the paranormal element of guardian angels that have ties to the main characters.
Avonna

Our Review

I found the opening paragraph of The Beast Within painful to read, but it did set the tone for the rest of the book very well.

I love a good mystery thriller, and the premise for this book promised to tick all of my boxes. It has a strong emotional  and romantic element, warring guardian angels and an evil serial killer, all combining into one of the best suspense novels I have read in a while.

Add to all of that, an unrelenting pace, beautifully descriptive writing and multiple storylines, in short, a book that will not allow you to stop reading.

The Beast Within is the first of Jacquie Biggar’s books I have read, and it didn’t take me long to realise I would have benefitted from reading the first book in the Mended Souls trilogy. The story itself stands alone, I just felt the need to know the characters a little better.

I will be reading the first book in this trilogy while I await the conclusion to this amazing series…

 

Excerpt from The Beast Within

Mike sank into the chair his wife had recently vacated in the conference room at the police station. He stared at the door and pictured the cop holding Jules pressed up against its smooth surface while he locked lips with her like she was in need of CPR.

And she’d let him.

His head fell back, and he closed his eyes, desperately trying to erase the preceding minutes from existence. Moisture leaked down his cheeks and into his ears. The heart that he’d thought was frozen in time, cracked. Great fissures of agony and sorrow spilled into his chest, filling his soul with darkness and rage. Why was this happening to him? Why was he being tortured this way? Wasn’t it enough that he’d lost his family and then was given the task of teaching his enemy repentance? How was he supposed to stand by and watch the love of his life move on with another man? Maybe even raise his children?

No.

Mike erupted from his seat, and the chair flew against the wall before bouncing to the floor. He strode for the door, determined to bust the cop’s face and then grab his wife, throw her over his shoulder, and head for home where she belonged. Then the memory of what he was drew him up short. A freaking angel. It didn’t matter how much he ached to stake his claim, it wouldn’t do any good, would it? Unless they were going to re-enact that sappy chick flick Jules used to pick every other month for their date night, it wasn’t going to work. He was a ghost—and she wasn’t.

His stomach sank. That meant he was going to have to learn to accept other men entering her life, and maybe even staying.

She deserved happiness.

 

About the Author

JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they’re gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls. She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters. Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂