This Week in Books (December 6)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.


Last book I finished reading :

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Three troubled women. One deadly secret.

Lissy and her daughter, Rosie, live a quiet life in Yorkshire, however when events at Rosie’s school come to light, their peaceful existence is shattered

Meanwhile, middle-aged women Erica and Beverley appear to have perfect lives but behind closed doors things are not as they seem.

All three women are tied together by a dark past that goes back to their school days. A child was murdered and one of the women is to blame.

But is the person responsible for the child’s death the same person who was blamed for it all those years ago?

As secrets from their past begin to surface it becomes clear that someone has revenge in their sights…


The book I’m currently reading :

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London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?

As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…

They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?


What I’m reading next :

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The boy studied the bruise turning yellow at the base of his neck. With quick fingers his mother tightened his tie, and pulled his collar high above it. Her eyes alone said, We will not speak of this…

Years later, a man is found shot dead in a local park. On his phone is a draft text: I can’t keep this secret any longer. The recipient is unnamed.

Detective Robyn Carter knows this secret is the key to the case, but his friends and family don’t offer any clues, and all her team have to go on is a size-ten footprint.

Then a woman is found in a pool of blood at the bottom of her staircase, and a seemingly insignificant detail in her stepdaughter’s statement makes Robyn wonder: are the two bodies are connected, and has the killer only just begun?

When another body confirms Robyn’s worst fears, she realises she’s in a race against time to stop the killer before they strike again. But just as she thinks she’s closing in, one of her own team goes missing.

Buried in the past is a terrible injustice. Can Robyn uncover the truth before another life is lost?

***

As always, I’d love to know what you’re reading this week! Let me know!

Happy reading! xx

Breaking Bones by Robert White @robwhite247 @EndeavourPress #BreakingBones #blogtour

** copy received via publisher **

It’s a pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Breaking Bones by Robert White today. Many thanks to Hannah Groves at Endeavour Press for the opportunity to join! Here’s what the book is all about.

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Author : Robert White
Title : Breaking Bones
Pages : 283
Publisher : Endeavour Press
Publication date : August 2, 2017

aboutthebook

Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice.

The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.

Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.

Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement … to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.

Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.

Every dog will have its day.

mythoughts

Frankie Verdi’s name may sound like some 1960’s crooner but he’s anything but. From a young age, he and his friends Eddie and Tony seem destined to find themselves on the wrong side of the law. All three of them have quite the temper and an unhealthy tendency towards violence. Frankie may have watched too many The Godfather movies, Eddie has a secret he’s desperately trying to hang on to and Tony, who in this day and age may be diagnosed with having learning difficulties, is taken advantage of and will do anything for his friends.

Set in the 1980’s, we watch their rise towards criminal kingpin status through the eyes of Detective Jim Hacker. Jim is an excellent narrator and becomes a bit obsessed with The Three Dogs, as dubbed by the media. Convinced they are behind a multitude of crimes, he wants nothing more than to see their empire fall but without proof, he’s having to sit back and wait until The Three Dogs slip up.

Meanwhile, Jamie Strange finds himself unwillingly caught up with The Three Dogs when his fiancé, Lauren, leaves him to be with Frankie. Lauren had a horrible childhood and desperately wants a better life but while she proves herself to be quite the savvy business woman, her relationship with Frankie isn’t what she thought it would be. But once you’re part of that circle, can you ever really leave?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. It’s dark and gritty, quite brutal and harsh, yet well-paced and hugely entertaining.  The music and the fashion immediately transported me right back to the 80’s and along with the realistic, believable characters and an interesting plot, this would make an excellent movie. All in all, an authentic, action-packed, well-written and enjoyable crime thriller!

Breaking Bones is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Robert White is an Amazon best selling crime fiction and Action and Adventure author.
His first three published novels UNREST DIRTY and THE FIX have appeared in the top ten downloaded novels in genre in the UK.

Robert is an ex cop, who captures the brutality of northern British streets in his work. He combines believable characters, slick plots and vivid dialogue to immerse the reader in his fast paced story-lines.

He was born in Leeds, England, the illegitimate son of a jazz musician and a factory girl.
He hated school, leaving at age sixteen. He joined Lancashire Constabulary in 1980 and served for fifteen years, his specialism being SWAT. Robert then spent four years in the Middle East before returning to the UK in 2000.

He now lives in Lancashire with his wife Nicola, and his two terribly behaved terrier dogs Flash and Tia.

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The Secret Child by Kerry Fisher @KerryFSwayne @bookouture #blogtour

** advanced copy received via Netgalley **

I’m absolutely delighted to join the blog tour for The Secret Child by Kerry Fisher today! Many thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this emotional tale right after I tell you what the novel is about.

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Author : Kerry Fisher
Title : The Secret Child
Pages : 354
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 29, 2017

aboutthebook

Susie did something that she knows she will always regret: giving her baby son up for adoption, to keep her infidelity secret from her family.

Louise, Susie’s daughter, feels the effects of that decision echoing down through the years – her mother has always been difficult, too strict with her but not strict enough with her sister Grace, who is wild and out-of-control. And Danny, Susie’s husband, adores her, but has always sensed something wrong at the heart of their marriage.

When tragedy strikes the family, and a chance discovery threatens to bring the truth to light, the sisters’ relationship is put to the test as they are faced with an impossible choice…

mythoughts

You can run from your past, but it will always catch up with you…

Back in the 60’s, Susie gave up her son for adoption. A decision she will regret for the rest of her life. But with a husband away on a 15 month stint in the navy, the child is clearly not his and Susie wants to protect her family. The novel follows the Duarte family throughout the years and the effect of hiding this gigantic secret has on Susie and her family.

Susie can’t stop thinking about the son she gave away, which has consequences for everyone. Her husband always feels he can’t do anything right or make Susie happy but doesn’t know why. Her eldest daughter Louise has an incredibly strict upbringing and isn’t allowed to make certain decisions based on Susie’s own experiences. Youngest daughter Grace, on the other hand, is raised very differently and turns into a wild child. While Susie only ever wanted to protect her family, it seems she’s only making things worse.

I’m always fascinated by stories involving adoptions. What would make a mother give up her child? How harsh is the experience of the Mother and Baby homes? We’ve all heard the stories throughout the years. Those nuns have a lot to answer for. But just imagine, having six weeks with your child. Six weeks to bond, love and cherish, to soak up every little bit about this child that afterwards will not be a part of your life any longer. It’s cruel and it’s easy to imagine the gaping hole you’d be left to deal with and I feel the author did a brilliant job in getting across that no, you don’t just slot back into your life and carry on.

What I like about The Secret Child is that the author doesn’t just explore the feelings Susie has to deal with but also her family. Why does Susie treat her daughters so differently? And as the years go on, why does she treat one grandchild differently from another, for example? As the second part of the story is told through Grace, the pieces start to come together and the family dynamics change, which made me wonder which side of the fence I’d end up.

This novel pulls at the heartstrings like you wouldn’t believe and left me with a massive lump in my throat. It’s the kind of story that has me reaching for the tissues, just in case, and has me doing that weird waving-hand-in-front-of-face thing to keep the tears at bay. Kerry Fisher obviously knows how to draw relatable and realistic characters that worm their way into your heart and I desperately wanted things to work out for all of them. This is a beautifully written story, sad and heartbreaking, moving and thought-provoking, ultimately incredibly emotional. I loved every minute of it!

The Secret Child is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to ‘getting a proper job’ and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University.

After two years working in the features department at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton.

She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame), two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy.

***

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The Liar’s Promise by Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #blogtour

It’s such a pleasure to join the blog tour for The Liar’s Promise by Mark Tilbury today! Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this spine-tingling book right after I tell you a bit more about it.

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Author : Mark Tilbury
Title : The Liar’s Promise
Pages : 310
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : November 28, 2017

aboutthebook

How does a mother protect her child from the unknown?

During a visit to a local theatre, four-year-old Chloe Hollis becomes hysterical. But her mother, Mel, doesn’t realise that this is just the beginning of the nightmare. In the coming weeks, Chloe talks of The Tall Man – Of death.

At her wits end, Mel confides in Charles Honeywell, the headmaster at the school where she works. But what Mel doesn’t know is that Charles is linked to what is happening to her daughter.

Will Mel learn the terrible truth? And can she overcome her own tragic past and save her daughter before it’s too late?

mythoughts

Have I mentioned yet that paranormal and supernatural things aren’t really my cup of tea? But you guys, this is Mark Tilbury, who completely won me over at the start of the year with the absolutely brilliant The Abattoir of Broken Dreams! So when the opportunity to join the blog tour for his latest book came up, there was no way I was going to sit this one out!

Once again, the author effortlessly combines crime, suspense and the paranormal which had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Mark Tilbury’s brain must be quite the scary place as he keeps coming up with the most vile, disturbed and despicable characters I’ve ever come across. From someone who reads a lot of crime fiction, that’s saying a lot! And yet at times, I also felt myself chuckling. I don’t know how he does that and I keep thinking it shouldn’t work, but it does somehow.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot. The book description doesn’t give much away and neither will I. The less you know when you start reading, the better. Suffice to say though, the plot is incredibly clever and left me utterly horrified at the games an evil genius plays. Cryptic, huh? 😄

This is one gripping paranormal thriller. It’s actually kind of sick and insanely twisted and I mean that in the best way possible. Yet there are also moments that are truly sad and heartbreaking. The Liar’s Promise just has everything! It had me glued to the pages and I couldn’t flip them fast enough. I may be a total paranormal sceptic, but I’m a firm Mark Tilbury believer and I so can’t wait for whatever he comes up with next! I highly recommend you check out this book and his other work too, if you haven’t done so already. I promise you won’t regret it for a second!

The Liar’s Promise is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his fourth novel, The Liar’s Promise, along with The Abattoir of Dreams, published, and The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused re-launched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Goodreads

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The Liverpool Girls by Pam Howes @PamHowes1 @bookouture #blogblitz #extract

It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for The Liverpool Girls by Pam Howes. This is the final book in The Mersey Trilogy and I have an extract to share with you today to whet your appetite. Many thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture!

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Author : Pam Howes
Title : The Liverpool Girls
Series : The Mersey Trilogy #3
Pages : 294
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 30, 2017

aboutthebook

Will tragedy tear them apart – once and for all?
It’s 1966 and in Liverpool two sisters are about to have their lives turned upside down…

Sisters Carol and Jackie haven’t had the easiest of childhoods, but as they grow up and begin their own lives both hope for happier times ahead. Stylish Carol works in Lewis’s department store, while Jackie dreams of drama school, and a career on the stage.

But the sisters are heartbroken when they discover they have been dating the same man, and an unexpected pregnancy causes a rift between them. Parents Dora and Joe must overcome their past hurts and help their daughters, despite the meddling of Joe’s second wife Ivy.

As the sisters’ troubles spiral and difficult decisions must be made, can the family pull together – or will Jackie and Carol’s sisterly bond be destroyed forever?

extract

Chapter One

Fazakerley, Liverpool, February 1966

Jacqueline Evans pulled the pillow around her head as her mam Dora bellowed up the stairs for the third time in as many minutes.

‘Jackie, come on, are you getting up today, or what? I’ve a lot to do. If you don’t want to come shopping in town with me, just say so. You can go and take some flowers to Granny’s grave for me, save me having to go over later.’

Jackie groaned and threw back the covers. She sat up slowly and dangled her feet over the bedside rug. Saturday morning, and she’d been hoping for a lie-in. She stared around the spacious bedroom that she’d once shared with her older sister Carol, who now lived in Allerton with their dad and his second wife Ivy. They’d seen little of Carol since she’d started working full-time at Lewis’s department store, and begun dating a new boyfriend. Carol had told Mam it was quicker to get to work as Dad’s house was closer to the city centre than here. Jackie secretly thought that was just an excuse to move out as Carol thought she’d get more freedom to do as she pleased at Dad’s. Mam hadn’t been too happy with her decision. They’d had a few arguments about it. But at eighteen, Carol was old enough to make her own choices and had told their mam so. Carol had lived with Dad for a time when their mam had suffered depression and then again when – due to a wrongful accusation against Mam of child neglect – the welfare department had decided Carol should be returned to Dad’s care. She’d eventually come back to live with their mam and Jackie, but had never been as close to Mam as Jackie was.

Jackie knelt up on her bed and pulled back the floral curtains. They did little to keep out the cold this morning. It was freezing. She chipped at the ice on the window with her fingernail. She’d bet anything that Carol didn’t have ice on her bedroom window; she’d told them they had central heating. For a brief moment she wished that she too had gone to live with Dad and Ivy in their new house, then immediately felt guilty. Mam did her best. Her job as an early-morning cleaner at Fazakerley hospital helped pay the rent and she also ran a small dressmaking business from the spare bedroom, having been a seamstress all her working life. They managed, just about. Mam was fiercely independent and refused to accept money for Jackie’s keep from Dad, even though he constantly offered it.

In a few months it would be Jackie’s turn to look for a job. She finished school in July after O levels, but didn’t have much of an idea of what she wanted to do. Well she did, but Mam didn’t have the money to support her dreams of going to drama school.

Slaving away in a factory was not an option Jackie fancied, she was adamant about that. Although Mam had mentioned Hartley’s paid good money; perhaps she could save a bit for the future and study drama at night school. Jackie yearned for more from life than factory work though. She loved to sing and dance, and as a child she’d attended dancing classes and even taken part in a few shows and Christmas pantos at the Empire Theatre. But the nearest she got to a stage these days was at school. She always involved herself with the annual summer and Christmas shows and enjoyed teaching dance routines to her fellow pupils.

Carol worked in Lewis’s wages office and had told Jackie she might be able to get a job in the store when she was ready, which would also be a great temporary measure. Carol got a discount on her clothes and makeup and always looked dead fab and trendy. Jackie envied her older sister, who was a Mod and had recently had her light brown hair cut short like the model Twiggy. She wore spiky lashes and pale lippy and had told Jackie that her new boyfriend had a scooter. The pair belonged to a crowd that went to all the clubs in town. Jackie hadn’t met the boyfriend, Alex, yet, but she aspired to be a Mod too. Maybe he’d have a mate with a scooter who Carol could introduce her to. She wouldn’t want her hair cutting short though; she preferred to keep it long.

Her friends at school often told her she had a look of Marianne Faithfull with her blonde hair and dark blue eyes. It was her clothes that left a lot to be desired, Jackie thought. Apart from her school uniform she’d hardly anything else to wear. She really needed something new before she was ready to meet a nice lad and start dating. She’d grown a few inches in the last twelve months and the clothes Mam had made her last year were far too short now, even shorter than would be acceptable as mini skirts and dresses. Mam kept saying she’d get cracking and make her some new clothes, but finding the time to do it on top of her cleaning and sewing work was almost impossible, and Jackie didn’t like to mither too much.

Maybe Carol could ask if there was a Saturday job for her at Lewis’s to be going on with, perhaps on one of the makeup counters. It would tide her over and give her a bit of spending money to treat herself. She’d try and see Carol soon. She could sneak a day off school and go into the city; meet her in the Kardomah for a bit of dinner. If they lived in the same house Carol would probably lend her something nice to wear. She may just take up her dad’s invite to stay over at the new place occasionally at the weekend.

‘Jackie!’ Mam’s repeated yell broke her thoughts. ‘I won’t tell you again. If you’re coming with me you need to be ready in ten minutes tops. I’m waiting to go.’

Jackie ran down the stairs and stood shivering in the hall in her nighty. ‘Mam, you get off. I need breakfast first, and then I’ve got some homework to do. I’ll get the bus up to Knowsley this afternoon and take some flowers to Granny’s grave. Shall I put some on Esther’s grave as well?’

Esther was the late wife of her mam’s old boss, who’d been like a second grandma to Jackie when she was little.

‘That would be lovely, chuck. Tidy them both up for me as well, if you will. But go before it gets dark. You don’t want to be hanging around graveyards in the dark and by the time you get back from Knowsley it will be. We’ll be able to get some daffodils to brighten the graves up in a week or two. Esther loved her daffs. So did my mam. I do miss them both.’

Jackie nodded. ‘So do I. Poor old Gran. It was a shame she went so quickly in the end.’

‘I know, love, but her memory loss was bad. It must have been so frightening for her at times and she was in shocking pain with her joints. I don’t think her body could take much more. Her passing was for the best. She’s at peace now.’

Dora’s mother had spent her final years in a nursing home, after being transferred from a residential home where she’d lived previously. A bump to the head a few years ago had set her on the road to losing her memory. Coupled with crippling arthritis in her knees and hips, it had meant she’d been wheelchair-bound for the last few months of her life. She’d been laid to rest in St Mary’s churchyard in Knowsley village, alongside her late husband and baby granddaughter Joanna, Carol’s twin, who’d died shortly after birth.

Dora handed Jackie a ten-shilling note. ‘That should be enough for the flowers and your bus fare. I’ll see you later, love.’

‘Okay, don’t forget I’m going over to Patsy’s tonight.’ Jackie kissed her mam on the cheek and closed the front door behind her.

***

The Liverpool Girls is available for purchase now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Pam Howes was born in Cheshire. She is a retired Interior Designer who began writing seriously in the mid nineties. 

Pam is mum to three adult daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren, and roadie to one musician partner. She still lives in Cheshire and is currently involved in raising awareness of her home-town’s musical heritage with campaigns to have Blue Plaques erected on the walls of local clubs, The Manor Lounge and The Sinking Ship, where the likes of The Walker Brother’s, The Who and Jimi Hendrix played; now closed, but still firmly in the hearts of Stockport’s recycled teenagers. 

Twitter | Facebook

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The Scandal by Fredrick Backman @MichaelJBooks

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Author : Fredrick Backman
Title : The Scandal (US Title : Beartown)
Series : Björnstad #1
Pages : 424
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : August 10, 2017

aboutthebook

Beartown is a small town in a large Swedish forest.

For most of the year it is under a thick blanket of snow, experiencing the kind of cold and dark that brings people closer together – or pulls them apart.

Its isolation means that Beartown has been slowly shrinking with each passing year. But now the town is on the verge of an astonishing revival. Everyone can feel the excitement. Change is in the air and a bright new future is just around the corner.

Until the day it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who’ll risk the future to see justice done. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

No one can stand by or stay silent. You’re on one side or another.

Which side will you find yourself on?

mythoughts

‘Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.’

How’s that for kicking off a story?! I can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick this one up but boy, was it worth the wait! I’d heard some amazing things from fellow trusted book bloggers and had rather insanely high expectations that were fortunately met on every single page and left me with a massive book hangover!

It took all of one paragraph to make me completely forget the world around me and find myself transported to this small town on the edge of a forest in Sweden. A town where nothing much happens, where it’s cold and dark most of the year, a town with very little prospects, a town where you can either go fishing or hunting or sit in a pub all day. But then, there’s also the hockey team. A team of teenagers who could very well reach an all-important final and these boys carry all the hopes and dreams of the town residents on their shoulders. Winning could bring about so many changes, changes this town desperately needs. More and better infrastructure, jobs and tourists. It’s a lot to ask.

It’s obvious from the start of the story, there is a mystery of sorts to be pieced together. Who is putting the gun to someone else’s head and why? To be honest, I was so engrossed in the lives of the residents of Beartown, that I completely lost track of that. I wasn’t even trying to figure it out. I just let the author lead me towards that moment and enjoyed it to the fullest. The story of how they got there is incredibly captivating. Sometimes heartbreakingly sad and utterly thought-provoking, it had me absolutely gripped. Yet somehow Fredrick Backman manages to throw in some chuckle-worthy moments too and all the characters and events are believable and realistic.

This is the sort of book that just gets under my skin and it will stay with me for a long time. As it is, it’s going straight into my top 5 books of the year. A true gem, which I highly recommend and I absolutely can’t wait to go back to Beartown!

The Scandal / Beartown was published in August.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads

Just One Time by K.S. Hunter @Author_KSHunter @rararesources #blogtour #extract

Happy Friday to all and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the steamy psychological thriller Just One More Time by K.S. Hunter. I have an extract to share with you today which follows the important book information. Many thanks to Rachel!

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Author : K.S. Hunter
Title : Just One Time
Pages :
Publisher : VAD Publishing
Publication date : December 7, 2017

aboutthebook

Desire can have dire consequences

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion.

extract

Chapter eight

I downed another shot of vodka. One for luck. Or for Dutch courage. Now I knew where I was going, why I was going there.

I quickly rinsed out the shot glass and returned it and the bottle to the cabinet in exactly the same positions they’d been in. Then I slowly climbed the stairs, listening to see whether I could hear any movement in the bedroom. Key would be to catch Alison while she was still awake; wake her up, and not only would that put an end to my idea of seduction, but I’d be on the receiving end of another one-sided slanging match.

I went into the bedroom, slowly pushing the door open. Alison, wearing her nightie, was lying on the bed. She was reading a book. Its cover made it look like a comedy, and again she wasn’t laughing.

I picked up my T-shirt and sleeping shorts and went down the corridor and into the bathroom. Aware that she could fall asleep at any moment, I quickly brushed my teeth and got dressed into my nightwear. I was moving so fast I stumbled into the wall twice. Then I switched off the light and re-entered the bedroom. As soon as I appeared, Alison placed the book on her bedside cabinet and switched off the lamp that sat atop it, pulling the duvet over her body, turning onto her side and facing away from me. She mumbled, ‘Good night.’

Instead of responding verbally, I got into the bed and snuggled my body tightly behind Alison’s. She tensed as our bodies came together, but I clung on, hoping to give the impression that this was the position in which I wanted to sleep. In truth, I hated it, the way her hair felt as its dry strands tickled my nose and went into my mouth when I inhaled. But I knew I needed to do this at the right pace, had to judge this just right, to get anywhere with her. With Alison, there was no jumping into the sack, no grabbing at each other, no tearing each other’s clothes off, no unquenchable desire. I knew I had to try to encourage her towards it.

I counted to three hundred in my head, all the time keeping my arm around Alison’s waist, all the time breathing in the irritating strands of her hair. Occasionally, I squeezed slightly, for affection’s sake, or the impression of it at least. Upon hitting the magical three hundred, I attempted to work some magic. I pressed my groin towards her backside and slid my hands over her stomach. Slowly, I brought them up, cupping her breasts, and at the same time I brought my lips to the back of her neck.

Instead of feeling her hand pull my head closer still, instead of her engaging with my touch, and instead of hearing her breathing intensify, I heard, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ And she pushed her elbow backwards, connecting with my chest to create space between our bodies. ‘Get off.’

‘But…’ I couldn’t think of what to say, what reason to give for protesting, even though, as a married couple, it should perhaps have been obvious. No, it had been too long – and too much had happened – for that.

Then, amid silence, I settled for, ‘But it’s been months.’ Pitiful.

‘And?’

‘And what do you expect me to say?’ I sat up and switched on the bedside table lamp. ‘But don’t you want to? Don’t you ever feel you want me any more?’

She lay on her back and looked up at the ceiling. ‘I don’t know.’ When she saw I was about to say more, she added, ‘That’s the truth, David. I don’t know what I want, but right now I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to have sex with you. And I don’t know what more you want me to say.’

‘But if you would just try, perhaps you’d feel –’

‘No, David. No, I wouldn’t. I didn’t last time and I doubt I will now.’

‘Oh, so you felt nothing then. You mean you pretended?’

‘I don’t know what I did. All I know is, I’m tired and want to go to sleep. I’m tired of all this and I don’t want your hands on me right now.’

‘Or any time?’ I paused, waiting for her to answer. When she didn’t: ‘You don’t ever want my hands on you, do you? The thought of my touch repulses you, doesn’t it?’

She remained quiet for a time, then in an unusually small voice and without eye contact, keeping her stare fixed on the dressing table, she added, ‘Well, what you do expect?’

‘I expect a wife.’

She turned to me sharply. ‘And I expected a husband.’ She turned away.

After some time of nothing but our breathing filling the heavy atmosphere, I said, ‘I suppose I deserved that. Look, Alison, I’m trying, I really am. I have been for a long time now. I just want things to be normal again, that’s all. Just normal.’

She didn’t answer.

Not knowing what else I could possibly say, but with the alcohol I’d consumed spurring me on, I said, ‘You know, it’s been two years.’

She sprang to life. ‘Oh, is that all, David, two years. Just a measly two years. That makes it okay then. I guess I should just forgive and forget. Well then, fuck you, if that’s what you think. Just two years!’ And she dropped her head against the pillow, again facing away from me, and refused to respond to another word I uttered, so eventually I switched off the light, attempting but failing to fall asleep, our conversation lingering in my mind, my failed attempt to connect with my wife lingering just the same.

And then Nina and her body and her offer came back and lingered, playfully, temptingly. She wouldn’t go away.

***

I don’t know about you but I’m thinking Nina spells trouble. 😉

Just One Time will be published on December 7th and is available for pre-order!

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abouttheauthor

K.S. Hunter is the pseudonym of an international bestselling author. The identity of the author, who lives in the United Kingdom, will remain a mystery.

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