29 July 2016

Q&A Interview with KA Richardson

Today I am very excited to  welcome author of  KA Richardson to my blog page to take part in my Q&A interview. So without further ado here is the lovely KA Richardson.

Morning thank you for joining me this morning
Thanks for having me Shell!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
My name is Kerry (I write as KA Richardson) and I live in Darlington which is a large market town in North East England. I live with my husband Peter and our dog Tala, who at just over 7 months is a little terror. I’d always wanted to be a police officer and when I dislocated my knee badly, I knew I’d never get through the fitness requirements so had to think of something else I wanted to do – I still wanted to work for the police though. I came across an advert for Teesside University and checked out their courses – very quickly enrolled onto a Bsc Crime Scene Science course and passed this in 2008. I was one of the lucky few who fell straight into crime scene work – was a CSI for about a year then a VCSI for another 2 years – while doing this full time I decided (after a nudge from a psychic) that I wanted to go back and do my Masters, which I did at the same Uni but chose creative writing.

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
Writing was always something I just did – I did it to escape bullying in school, then throughout my adult life kept going back to it. I never really thought about writing professionally until I saw the psychic I mentioned in the last question. My writing had always been quite private and never really for anyone else to view. He was appalled to see I wasn’t writing as he quite rightly pointed out that it was my passion. So when I finished my MA I just kept writing. I still work for the police now so it’s tough sometimes fitting it in but I think if you enjoy something then you just have to keep going at it and making time to do it. I write around my shifts, quite often during breaks at work, and on a morning before I start my day.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
I write novels that at the minute, are classed in the crime genre – they’re aimed at anyone who enjoys a ‘who dunnit’ story with different types of crimes being committed. Generally there’s an overall theme of murder, though it’s always in different circumstances. As an example, With Deadly Intent is about a serial killer just perfecting his methods, I’ve Been Watching You is a serial rapist/murderer, and book 3, which is due out later this year, focusses around human trafficking and the police diving team. My books tend to focus on the forensic side as that’s my background. I’d say generally speaking more women that men read my books, but I do have some amazing male fans who love them too.
What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
I’m generally what’s called a ‘pantser’ – I start a novel with a basic idea of a plot, usually just an idea like ‘I want to write about human trafficking’ – I then do character profiles for my main characters – this is important to me. I need to know the people that I’m throwing into horrid situations so that I know how they’ll deal with them. I never know the ending or the journey when I start writing – things will happen that surprise me, and quite often make me worry about my characters and how they’ll cope with something.

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
Officially, all characters are entirely fictional – however there may be some traits from people I know in there. Something that makes a person unique is often hard to write about and if you know someone who has a particular quirk it makes the character more realistic. Cass for example, was probably based a little on me – she puts pens through her ponytail so she doesn’t lose them – I never left the office as a CSI without pens in my hair.

Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
In With Deadly Intent, Cass’s dog Ollie has a seizure – it’s descriptive and realistic and I based that on my dog. Koda, as he had epilepsy – I used his first seizure and how I felt at the time to illustrate Cass’s feelings and emotion. The crime scene processes used are as realistic as they can be without making them into a lecture. Domestic violence is a theme through some of the books – not my personal experiences but it’s something that happens all the time, with both men and women being perpetrators – I think things that are important to me as a person are covered in the books in a roundabout way.

What research do you do?
Depends on the novel – the first one I did some psychology research – getting into the head of the killer etc – but the crime scene knowledge was already there. Any police procedural requirements, I consult my contacts at work. I often check crime scene facts with other crime scene personnel and my lecturers from Uni who are still amazingly helpful. For specific research I contact various people – fire investigators when am writing arson, doctors if I need a specific medical condition to fit etc. And I’ll quite often use the internet, journals etc too.

Who would you like to co-write with and why?
Ooooo tough question – I don’t know that I’d be very good to work with as I’m quite opinionated and stubborn – but I’d love to work with Eileen Wharton on a joint piece, and possibly even Karen Rose – I love both of their works.

What's your favorite book?
Another tough question – I have favourites in various genres. The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton is one that stays with me from childhood and I still revisit to read, The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel – it’s so unusual and not something I’d normally choose to have read. And any of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

What's your favorite food?
Roast chicken and mashed potatoes. MMMMM

What's your favorite film?
Again there are so many that leave a lasting impression – I love action movies – Die Hard etc. I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit and rewatch them often. And Miracle on 34th Street at Christmas time!

What's your favorite song?
I go through phases with music – different artists for different moods. I love In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain by Elvis, Black Tears by Jason Aldean, Drink a Beer by Luke Bryan, It’s My Life by Bon Jovi and Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?

My website is www.kerryannrichardson.com – I’m on facebook as KA Richardson and my twitter tags are @kerryann77 and @karichardson77 – the books can be purchased through ibooks, amazon, kobo etc and can be ordered from Waterstones or WH Smiths.
Publication date 22nd September

27 July 2016

He's Gone By Alex Clare ~~~~BLOG TOUR~~~~

I am delighted it is my stop on debut novel He’s Gone Blog tour By Alex Clare which is out on the 1st August. You can can pre-order your copy on this link Amazon Uk

The Book
How do you find a missing child when his mother doesn't believe you have the right to even exist? When Detective Inspector Roger Bailley returns to work as Robyn, all she wants is to get on with the job she loves while finally being herself. When toddler Ben Chivers is snatched from a shopping centre on her first day back at work, Robyn has to find Ben and herself as she deals with the reactions of her police colleagues, the media and her own daughter.

My thoughts
He’s Gone is Alex Clare debut novel and what an impressive novel it is. With a cover that's got buy me written all over it I couldn't wait to get started on this beauty.

Imagine the horror of shopping with your child and turning round to realise they have gone?! This is what happens to Gillian when she goes shopping with her son Benjamin.We are introduced DI Robyn Bailley who has just returned back to work. But how do you find a missing child when his mother doesn't believe you have the right to even exist? We then follow DI Bailey on the case which starts off with a missing body, a changed identity and a murder!

The story starts off on Monday 18th July and takes us through to Tuesday 26th July with the use of short chapters which I loved making this an easy read. I devoured this in one afternoon I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.The author has shown great sensitivity in her handwriting skills with the subject matter which shown throughout the story. With twists and turns that I didn't see coming keeping me guessing until the very end.

This is a cracking start to a new DI series and full of police procedures Alex has certainly carried out a lot of research for this novel. Robyn Bailey is a likable character and having problems of her own I could really relate to her. I am looking forward to getting to the character more in the next novel.   

If you're looking for a page turner that is full  of tension I highly recommend this giving it 4.5 stars.

Thank you to Sarah Sleath at Impress Books for an Advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review

19 July 2016

The Optician's Wife by Betsy Reavley

The Optician's WifeThe Optician's Wife by Betsy Reavley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all I really do not know where to start with this review. This is actually the moment where I just want to tell the world how good this book is and for everyone to read it. I just loved it. Even after thinking where is this story going what can I stay other than it totally blew me away!

The Story is inspired by true events so straight away I thought this is going to be a good read but when the story takes a surprising turn that I didn't see coming I have to say it is absolutely flipping fantastic.

So the story starts off in April 1983 where we meet unpopular seventeen-year-old Deborah who meets the charming and handsome Larry, he sweeps her off her feet. The trouble is Larry has a secret. A series of grim stomach turning murders take place casting a shadow over everything .As Deborah’s world starts to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal. And to keep their marriage alive, sacrifices must be made.

This story takes us on a journey throughout her relationship with Larry told from her point of view. I love books written like this.

Without giving to much away this is one twisted disturbing story that will have you hooked from start to finish. I couldn't simply couldn't put it now! I didn't see the ending coming at all. I loved this book so much I will definitely be reading more books by this author. Betsy is an author not to be missed. This book most certainly is in my best reads for 2016.

If you like gritty psychological thriller, This one is very well crafted which I highly recommend it giving it 5 massive stars.

Thank you to Betsy Reavley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

The Killing Files (The Project #2)The Killing Files by Nikki Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How excited was I to hear that The Killing Files is the second book in the project files series. Having read The Spider In The Corner Of The Room which has been renamed Subject 375 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't wait to get started and i sure as hell wasn't disappointed and devoured it in one afternoon I simply couldn't put it down.

So in this second book we continue the journey of Dr Maria Martinez who is out of prison and on the run. And her mission is to get back to the safety of her family.
Little does she know that this might be the most dangerous place of all!!

This is one incredible journey that will have you on the edge of your seat. I strongly advise reading Subject 375 first with it beginning filed with background information about Dr Maria Martinez.

I love how the story is written through Maria’s point of view with flashbacks building up one intense storyline has Maria tries to remember who, what and why. I loved everything about the relationship between her and Chris. Nikki Owen writing skills are sensational.

This is one tense gripping story and I can't wait to read the next one in the series.

I highly recommend this and Subject 375 this is a series not to be missed giving it 4.5 stars

Thank you to Harlequin and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a honest review.

View all my reviews

Only The Lonely by LM Krier

Only the Lonely: DI Ted Darling Series Book 5Only the Lonely: DI Ted Darling Series Book 5 by L M Krier

Most of you all know by now that I am a big fan of L M Krier writing especially the DI Ted series. I couldn't wait to get stuck into Only The Lonely after seeing the cover which has buy me written all over it. So this is the fifth book in series and Ted is back with a promotion. Before he has chance to settle in at work he is faced with his first body that could be the most cynical murder he's ever encountered. Which is a proper cringe moment I have to say.

Ted finds himself with more responsibility with an expanded area and bigger team. Where we see new characters brought into the series.A savage killer appears to be selecting victims from online dating sites and dispatching them in vicious, frenzied attacks. With a corpse count rising and potentially two killers on the loose Ted has enough to deal with. But then he discovers that not all coppers work like he and his team do. Some of them just want to see someone behind bars, and aren't too fussy if they are guilty or not.

What did i think of it?! I flipping loved it.This series just gets better and better. Although this can be read as a standalone I would recommend reading it has a series it is to good not to miss. I love the cringe moment scenes that the author has brought into this series making it that extra bit gritty and one hell of a page turner.

I loved the fact that we see the Ice Queen again and get to know her more, I am loving her character there is something very intriguing about her In only the lonely we also get to know more of Ted and Trevor with the author building them up without the series. They are one strong gay couple who I can't wait to read more about in the next book…..No pressure LM Krier LOL

And for all you Ted fans out there, you are in for one hell of a treat. I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed this book it is a easy 5 star read from me.

And I would just like to say thank you to L.M Krier for an advanced copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews


Today it is my stop to host the Prima Facie (The Adam Stanley Series)
by Netta Newbound Blog Tour. I am delighted to welcome Netta to my blog to take part in my Q&A interview.

Morning thank you for joining me this morning
Hi Shell, thanks for having me.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I’m originally from Manchester, England, but immigrated to beautiful New Zealand in 1998 with my husband, three small kids and five suitcases.

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember, but life got in the way. Once my children had left home, my husband encouraged me to follow my dream.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
I mostly write psychological thrillers. I love to place ordinary characters in extraordinary situations. A lot of my books have a strong family theme and I find my biggest readership is women.

What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
I’m getting faster all the time. My first book took three years to write and my last just three months. My average working day begins as soon as I wake in the morning and ends when I fall into bed at night. You could say I’m obsessed. It’s not all writing though—I take a certain amount of time out for social media and research. I also help a lot of my author friends as much as I can with critiquing, formatting, and designing book covers.

My actual writing process is simple – I start at the beginning and write, write write until I have a complete manuscript. I never plot. I only have a vague idea of where I want the story to go, and I’m often shocked by the twists and turns that occur along the way. Until recently I wrote everything longhand, and would transfer a chapter at a time into my laptop, but I’m trying to do away with that process.

Once finished, I’ll do several read-through’s before sending it to my wonderful beta readers, critique partners and editor. And finally I’ll read the entire manuscript aloud from start to finish with my editor.

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
All purely fictional I’m afraid, although my family and friends try to find some likeness or other in my characters.

Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
There’s often an element of truth in my novels, but no—there’s no actual event that I’ve written about.

What research do you do?
I’m always researching something or other on the internet. I don’t think it’s safe to just try to wing it, you can guarantee there’ll be an expert on the subject keen to pull it apart if I do.

Who would you like to co-write with and why?
Stephen King – If you’re reading this, Stevie-boy, give me a call…wink-wink…

What's your favorite book?
Pet Semetary – Stephen King – it affecting me for a long time afterwards and it was the first time I really asked myself that age old question, ‘what would I do in that situation?’

What's your favorite food?
I love chicken chow mein, lasagne and fillet steak—not all on the same plate of course! Haha.

What's your favorite film?
True Romance – it’s a modern day love story (not for the faint of heart!)

What's your favorite song?
I have lots of favourite songs depending what mood I’m in, but Hallelujah makes me tingle no matter who sings it.

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
They can find more about me and my books at www.nettanewbound.com, Facebook or Twitter

Prima Facie
In this fast-moving suspense novel, Detective Adam Stanley searches for Miles Muldoon, a hardworking, career-minded businessman, and Pinevale’s latest serial killer.

Evidence puts Muldoon at each scene giving the police a prima facie case against him.

But as the body count rises, and their suspect begins taunting them, this seemingly simple case develops into something far more personal when Muldoon turns his attention to Adam and his family.

16 July 2016


I am delighted it is my stop on Blog Tour for MELODY BITTERSWEET AND THE GIRLS’ GHOSTBUSTING AGENCY by Kitty French with a 5 star review  you can grab yourself a copy on amazon now with the links below.

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

This is the first book that I have read and certainly wont be my last. I couldn't wait to read it after reading all the rave reviews and I definitely wasn't disappointed. I absolutely loved it. This is one of those books that will have you laughing from start to finish. In actual fact my belly was hurting from laughing that much! It is hilarious.

The story starts off where we are introduced to Melody who is single and can see dead people. waking up lonely on her birthday she decides things have to change then we fast forward two months she now has her very own ghostbusting agency. Melody gets hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there’s the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job!

Kitty certainly has a wicked sense of humor and clearly shown throughout this unique story with plenty of laugh out loud moments with this fresh unique story, which is one hell of a page turner. I was hooked from the start to finish. Melody character is just brilliant she is fun and likable. Along with a very entertaining storyline and mystery that unfolds throughout the book.  This isn't your run of the mill fluffy chick lit. It is fun, fun, fun!  Even the cover is fun and has buy me write all over it. And I cant wait to read the next book in the series.

If your looking for a fun entertaining read this is the book for you. Which I highly recommend giving it 5 easy stars.

US: http://amzn.to/1Z2CQpB

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

15 July 2016

The Step Mother By Claire Seeber ~~~~~BLOG TOUR~~~~~~

Having been a fan of Claire Seeber for sometime now I am very excited to be kicking off The Step Mother blog tour with an exact of The Stepmother and my 5 star review.

The Stepmother
by Claire Seeber Publication 15th July 2016 Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships. No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work. And whilst Jeanie’s stepdaughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over. But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage. Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all. After all, a fairy tale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it? ‘I loved it. From beginning to end I was so hooked on this.’ Itsy Bitsy Book Bits ‘A deliciously disturbing psychological thriller, which I guarantee once you start reading it you will find impossible to put down.’ The Book Review Cafe ‘I loved this book for so many reasons and predict it will be a big star in book world this year. If you love this genre, don’t miss this.’ Booklover Catlady

My thoughts
Has most of you all know i am a massive fan of Claire’s and i have been for a while but i have to say this is without a doubt Claire’s best book yet. I absolutely freaking loved it!

The story starts  off with one very unique prologue starting off with the line. Once upon a time there was a king who married a lady, and so she became his queen. A crime story starting off with a fairy tale beginning who would've thought it. I actually found myself saying wow what a start. So then the story moves to the present where we meet Marlena in the first chapter and then Jeanie in the second chapter. Which continues throughout the story with an added chapter that takes us to the fairy tale or is it?!

Jeanie and Matthew are a strong  happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships. Raising a family under one roof
Although Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

I love how the story is written from the sisters point of view.The Step Mother is one hell of a page turner with twists and turns that you will not see coming giving me a couple of OMG moments to say the least. I was totally absorbed with the intensity of this exciting psychological thriller which had me guessing until the end.

I devoured this in one afternoon I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Claire certainly knows how to keep the reader's attention with this extremely well crafted emotional atmospheric roller coaster of a story. Which I cannot recommend enough. This is one of the best books I have this year without a shadow of a doubt. Giving it a massive 5 stars.

Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

       THE STEPMOTHER by Claire Seeber – JULY 15th 2016
                            UK: http://amzn.to/1tkhiLA
                            US: http://amzn.to/1Uive2g

The Stepmother
Claire Seeber


Once upon a time there was a king who married a lady, and so she became his queen. Soon after their wedding the new queen gave birth to a beautiful daughter. The queen looked at her baby and saw that her hair was black as ebony, her skin as white as snow and her lips as red as the roses climbing around the window. The queen liked the pure and pristine snow best, so she named her baby Snow White.
Not long after the baby’s christening, the queen died of a mysterious ailment.
I wonder what that was.
(Though isn’t it true that some women – many women perhaps – don’t like other beautiful women – especially younger ones? Or is that a fairy tale too, probably made up by men?)
Anyway. I digress…
The king was sad and lonely on his own, as men of a certain age tend to be, and so, sometime not so long after the queen’s death, he married a most beautiful woman, who seemed quite nice. She became the new queen – and, of course, the young Snow White’s stepmother.
And we all know about stepmothers, eh?
Oh yes. We know all about them.
Don’t we?

This is not the story, is it?
It’s not meant to be the story – for either of us.
My breath sobs out of me as I run off the train and down the platform, up the footbridge stairs, past people going calmly about their daily business: travellers who glance away like I am deranged.
I am a little deranged, in my desperation.
Down the other side, I stumble through the barriers, out into this unknown city.
Where the fuck is the taxi rank?
I bundle myself into the first yellow cab I see, praying the whole time as it drives out of the city, so slowly – torturously slowly –
and into the countryside.
Who made all this countryside? I hate the countryside.
Out across the fields, into the small town, through the orchards, up to the hill. It’s the longest drive I’ve ever been on, it seems – it goes on and on…
And all the time I’m praying this is a dream.
All the time, I can’t quite catch my breath: it stops all jagged in my throat. I can’t believe it. I can’t, I won’t, I can’t.
They still have no answers when I get there, and so I put my head back and I do something I’ve never done before. I scream to the sky, to the heavens, to the world. I have always kept it in, my fear and rage, but now I scream it out.
And it doesn’t even touch the sides; not even remotely, not even a tiny little bit.
And later, when more becomes clear, I vow to sort this whole sorry mess out – to find the truth. Oh yes, I will. They can’t hide from me, oh no.
There is nowhere for this wickedness to hide.

The old house is like a living thing. I felt it the first time I came here: as if the very cracks between the bricks were breathing quietly, as if the building were actually sentient. As I stand now before the great front door with its sturdy old locks, the keys for which I hold for the very first time, I struggle to believe it’s my home.
Grey bricked, square and squat, mullion windowed, the first parts of the house were built in Elizabethan times. It has been added to along the centuries and modernised: a new drive curving before it, wrought-iron gates to keep outsiders firmly out. But still its age seeps from the walls. Old creepers twine around the sills, climbing up the old brickwork; red and white roses round the thick wooden door. Built onto one side, a single pointed turret reaches desperately to the darkening sky, as thick cloud scuds across a shadowed new moon.
I will never forget my first sight of it. I remember most distinctly the first time I crossed the threshold, following nervously in Matthew’s wake. How in awe I was, and how my heart thumped.
Now, apparently, I am home.

Yesterday afternoon, at the estate agents squeezed between the old arcade and the chippie on the seafront corner, I detached my battered old ‘Virgo’ key ring – proudly presented to me by Frank on his tenth Christmas – and handed back the keys to 9 Marine Buildings with an almost-lump in my throat. Almost, but not quite.
Despite my nerves about what was coming next, I can’t say I was entirely sorry to say goodbye to the dingy hallway that always smelt of cat wee, despite my best attempts with air fresheners or potpourri. (Last year Frank was so desperate to mask the smell from a new girlfriend, his joss sticks almost burnt the whole place down.)
I definitely wouldn’t miss the patch of mould shaped like a polar bear above the bedroom window, or the shower that inevitably turned icy halfway through a hair wash – but for all its faults, it had been home for a long time. It was what we were used to, Frankie and I.
Sure, the second bedroom wasn’t big enough to swing a mouse. The balcony was small and never chic, despite valiant efforts with greenery and two stripy deckchairs – but just having it enabled me to sit and watch the sea, sometimes for hours that slipped by unmarked; the sea that I both feared and loved in equal measure.
But in my heart I’d left already. I closed the flat door more resolutely than I felt and knocked on Elsie’s. When she didn’t answer, I left the yucca and the peace lily on the landing, unsure if she’d gone to her niece’s – or if she found the idea of goodbye as painful as I did.
I shoved the last bits of mail in my bag – the redirection would kick in tomorrow – and closed the street door behind me for the final time.
The speed at which my life was changing felt surreal and astonishing – only this time in a good way. I just couldn’t quite believe it was true.
After I’d dropped the keys off at the estate agents, I drove towards Shoreham for my last night on the south coast. In Judy’s dingy first-floor flat we sat below a curling print of someone French’s lilies, toasting new beginnings with warm Sauvignon Blanc. It took quite a bit of ‘jokey’ sniping that wasn’t very jokey for me to gather I’d upset her. Hanging in the cramped hallway, my wedding dress had apparently become a red rag to a bull. I wished I’d left it in the car – but I’d been scared it was too tempting for local thieves.
‘Fantastic pulling grounds, weddings.’ Judy sloshed wine into her half-full glass then moved to top up mine with the end of the bottle. ‘I could be meeting my own Mr Right if you’d asked me.’
‘But there won’t be any Mr Rights there.’ I covered my glass with my hand so the dregs trickled between my fingers. Only Frankie and Marlena were coming – and the twins of course. ‘There’s no party or anything, Jude, really. It’s not like that.’
It was the truth. It was going to be tiny – and private. Just our immediate families – of which there wasn’t much, for either of us; the families that we were going to integrate, bring together, in my imagination, like the Brady Bunch – only much smaller.
‘Your prince has come then, eh? Let’s just hope he’s a bit more charming than the last one,’ Judy slurred, draining her glass too quickly. ‘Let’s hope he doesn’t sell anything to the press. Or that he hasn’t got a mad wife in the attic. God, imagine that!’
‘I don’t think it’s like that.’ My smile was becoming fixed. Matthew did have an ex-wife – that much was true – but as far as I knew, she wasn’t mad or living in the attic.
I’d been teaching Jane Eyre again for A level this term, covering for a teacher on maternity leave at a comprehensive out by Stenning, only slinking beneath the wire because my old head of department was there now and, desperate to fill the post at the last minute, took pity and hired me.
No, there were no parallels between the fiery little governess and my life. None at all.
It was definitely time to hit the saggy sofa bed before Judy got started on all men being bastards and the bottle of mouldering dessert wine she’d produced from somewhere. She didn’t need me to rub my good fortune in – or to remind her of all the trauma I’d already been through that made this new adventure all the more special and extraordinary.
And I definitely didn’t need to start thinking about what I hadn’t quite told Matthew yet. I could deal with that later.
Couldn’t I?