Friday 24 August 2018

Kiss of Death
Paul Finch

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for Paul Finch's latest book, Kiss of Death. Today, I have an extract for you so sit back and enjoy!

Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper was never less than impressive. Even now, in jeans, a T-shirt and body armour, and clambering over a rusty farm fence, she cut a striking figure. With her athletic physique, wild mane of white-blonde hair and fierce good looks, she radiated charisma, but also toughness. Many was the cocky male officer who’d taken her gender as a green light for slack work or insubordination, or both, and had instantly regretted it.
‘This lot been cautioned, Jack?’ Gemma asked.
‘They have indeed, ma’am,’ Reed said.
‘The only one I heard was this fella.’ Reed indicated Boar, who, having had his mask pulled off, resembled a pig anyway, and now was in the grasp of two uniforms. ‘Think it went something like “fuck off, you dick-breathed shitehawk”.’
‘Excellent. Just the thing to win the jury over.’ Gemma raised her voice. ‘All right, get them out of here. I want separate prisoner-transports for each one. Do not let them talk.’
‘Don’t worry,’ Wolf sneered, still gripped by the large Welsh cop, though he seemed to have recovered some of his attitude. ‘No one’s talking here except you. And you’ve got quite a lot to say for a slip of a tart.’
Gemma drew a can of CS spray from her back pocket and stalked towards him.
‘Ma’am!’ Reed warned.
DSU Piper was renowned, among other things, for almost never losing her cool, and so managed to bring herself to a halt before doing something she might regret. She stood a couple of feet from the prisoner, whose thin, grizzled features split into a yellow-toothed grin. 
‘Don’t say nothing!’ he shouted to his compatriots. ‘Do you hear me? Don’t give these bastards the pleasure. Say nothing, and we’ve got plenty chance of beating this.’
‘You finished?’ Gemma asked him.
He shrugged. ‘For now.’
‘Good. Take a long look at your friends. This is likely the last time you’ll see them till you’re all on trial. And very possibly on that day, one, or maybe two of them, could be looking back at you from the witness stand. How much chance will you have then?’
Wolf hawked and spat at her feet.

Monday 20 August 2018

The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street
Rachel Dove


Sadly, this is the last blog tour I have planned with Brook Cottage Books, as JB Johnston is taking a well earned break from organising blog tours and is currently writing her very own novel! Good luck JB in everything you do and on behalf of all the authors, publishers and bloggers who have worked with you, we wish you all the very best of luck in the future.

Today I have an extract for you of The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street. As we are in full wedding season now, what better way to sit back and have a sneaky peak into this author's latest novel.

Series: Westfield village series #3
Genre: romantic fiction
Release Date: 10th August 2018
Publisher: HQ Digital

Maria is ready to say 'yes' to the dress!
As owner of Happy Ever After, Maria Mallory is Westfield's resident wedding planner, spending her days making dreams come true for future brides.
Maria even has her own perfect day planned out too, she just needs to find the right man. So when she falls in love with local celeb Darcy Burgess she can't believe her luck – it was finally her turn for her Happy Ever After. Or so she thought.
Jilted at the altar, Maria can't believe that her fairytale ending hasn't come true. She's ready to give up on love once and for all. But little does she know that once you stop looking for it, love has a way of surprising you…
A laugh-out-loud romance, perfect for fans of Holly Martin and Tilly Tennant.

Two hours later, Maria found herself in Harrogate, squeezed into the red dress, heels pinching her feet, wondering why the hell she wasn't sat on Cass's couch eating ice cream and crying. She said the same to Cass as they walked on tottering heels to the nearest trendy bar, Ice, in the wine bar and posh eatery part of Harrogate's city centre, which, coincidentally, butted up against the legal quarter of Harrogate, and no doubt the two sides kept each other in business quite well too. Walking into Ice with Cassie, it was hard to ignore the stares that her friend attracted. Cassie Welburn was, let's face it, sex on a twenty nine year old stick. She was always tanned thanks to her meticulous salon treatments, plucked and shaped to perfection, and tonight, as usual, was dressed to kill. Even Maria's daring red dress looked tame in light of Cassie's black and silver dress, slashed to the thigh, combined with sparkly silver heels that make Cassie even taller than her just under six foot frame. Maria blushed and nudged Cass's elbow with her own.
"People are staring Cass." Cassie shrugged. 
"Let them stare, girl. Don't worry, I've got your back." Maria belatedly realised that tonight, thanks to that ridiculous article, the stares may indeed be for her and not her glamorous friend. She cringed inwardly, and planted a smile on her face.  She took her friend by the arm, and pushing her boobs out and her chin up, she headed to the bar. "Let's get smashed," she declared. 

BUY LINK Amazon UK -


I am a writer and teacher, living in West Yorkshire with my husband, our two sons, and our furry pets.  In July 2015, I won the Prima magazine and Mills & Boon Flirty Fiction Competition, with my entry, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, out now in ebook and paperback. The Flower Shop on Foxley Street followed this in 2017 and both books hit the Amazon top 200. Chic Boutique got to #2 in the rural life humour chart and is regularly in the top 100 of that chart.  I am the winner of the Writers Bureau Writer of the Year Award in 2016 and I have had work published in the UK and overseas in various magazines.  My next book, The Long Walk Back, is out in January 2018 and I am currently writing the last book in the Westfield series. My first book with Manatee Books, Nice Guys Finish Lonely, is out in April 2018 in ebook and paperback. I love to write romantic fiction, both rom-com and harder hitting women's fiction.  I am also a post 16 teacher and am undertaking an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University. 

I love to chat on twitter so come say hi! @writerdove
I also run a blog (very occasionally these days):

Goodreads Author Page:

 A signed spiral bound paperback of the book plus bookmarks
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Friday 17 August 2018

The Deserter's Daughter
Susanna Bavin

I would like to say a huge thank you to the author and Allison & Busby for sending me a copy of The Deserter's Daughter for review. I can only apologise it has taken me so long to read it! Please find my review below of this wonderful family saga.


Carrie is so excited to be marrying Billy and trying on her wedding dress with her mother’s veil makes her almost burst with pride. Her half sister Evadne isn’t so happy about her younger sister marrying before her and feels bitter and jealous of her sister beating her to the alter.

When the local priest Father Kelly comes to the house and spills the beans that Carrie’s father was shot at dawn for being a deserter and not a hero as they all thought (apart from Carrie’s mother, who kept the secret for years), Billy’s mother comes marching round to inform Carrie that the wedding is off and that he wants nothing more to do with her.

Carrie is desperate to marry Billy and can’t bring believe that he doesn’t want to marry her and tries all sorts of ways to meet him to make him change his mind. He is adamant that he doesn’t want to marry a deserter’s daughter and that he has prospects as a town hall clerk and wants to get on with the rest of his life. Carrie is left distraught at this news in more ways than one…

No sooner is Carrie coming to terms with being dumped by Billy, when she meets Ralph, an up and coming antique dealer who sweeps her off her feet and promises her the world and that she won’t have to want for anything. They are married by special licence and you know what they say, “marry in haste, repent at leasure”!

Ralph and his brother Adam couldn’t be more different. Ralph is unpredictable and Carrie is wary of him and does whatever she can to please him, but the feelings just aren’t there and although she tries her hardest to stay away from Adam, it sometimes proves difficult as he is a doctor caring for Carrie’s mother, who has had a devastating stroke and is unable to move.

This is the author’s first novel and what a corker of a saga it is! Full of twists and turns and at one point, I found I was holding my breath and eager to turn the next page to read what happened! Full of suspense, tragedy, a true saga full of love and devastation (which is right up my street!) and I really cannot wait to read this author’s next book which is out in paperback in October. The attention to detail in the book is wonderful and I really can’t believe this is the author's  first novel! Wonderful.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

The French Adventure
Lucy Coleman
Blog Tour

I'm delighted to have the lovely Lucy Coleman featuring on Boon's Bookcase again and I have an extract from The French Adventure for you.

Genre: Sweet romance/cosy mystery
Release Date:1 February 2018
Publisher: Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus)
Packed full of French flavour and idyllic settings this is a romantic, heart-warming and unputdownable new novel about life and love, perfect for anyone who loves Milly Johnson, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson.
Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents' beautiful house in France for a much-needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.
Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents' adjoining gites into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn't expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist...

The L Word
Two weeks today will be the first anniversary of our first real date. Being wined and dined in a chic little French restaurant was a gigantic step forward; it signalled the beginning of a new era in my relationship with Karl. Even though at least half of the meal was spent talking about work, his intentions were clear – we were no longer simply colleagues and romance was in the air.
Since then, Karl must have told me that he loves me more than a thousand times. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you that’s not the case. He usually manages to slip it into the conversation at least three times a day. The first time he said the L word to me, it slid off his tongue so easily I could almost have missed it. It wasn’t a staring into each other’s eyes moment of discovery, just a casual ‘love you, babe’.
As the months rolled by, I pushed aside my growing fear that it was only a word to him. Because it means so much more to me, I freeze whenever he tacks it onto a sentence.
And, yes, I’m very aware that my air of disapproval does make me sound ungrateful and undeserving. But it’s all about self-preservation, you see. I’ll never utter that word again until I’m one hundred per cent certain that the man I’m saying it to believes I’m their soul mate too – the perfect fit.
The last time I uttered the L word, was six years ago. It was to a guy I’d known since childhood and the man I genuinely believed I would marry when the time was right. He was handsome in a rugged way, fired up with ambition and exciting to be around. Sadly, everyone we knew thought we were the perfect couple too, except the guy in question, as it turned out…




Lucy Coleman always knew that one day she would write, but first life took her on a wonderful journey of self-discovery for which she is very grateful.
Family life and two very diverse careers later she now spends most days glued to a keyboard, which she refers to as her personal quality time.
‘It’s only when you know who you are that you truly understand what makes you happy – and writing about love, life and relationships makes me leap out of bed every morning!’
If she isn’t online she’s either playing with the kids, whose imaginations seem to know no bounds, or painting something. As a serial house mover together with her lovely husband, there is always a new challenge to keep her occupied!

Lucy also writes under the name Linn B. Halton.


Goodreads Author Page:


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Saturday 4 August 2018

The Girl in The Letter
Emily Gunnis

It's my stop on the Blog Tour today and I really can't wait to read this one, but will have to wait until April 2019 for the paperback to be published! To wet your appetite, I have an extract for you below and now I have read it, I really can't wait!

BLURB: 'A great book, truly hard to put down. Fast paced, brilliantly plotted and desperately sad at times - all hallmarks of a bestseller' Lesley Pearse on The Girl in the Letter  Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Kathryn Hughes, this gripping novel of long-buried secrets will stay with you for ever. A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away.  A mystery to be solved. 1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret's, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave. Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret's. Before it is too late.  Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret's set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever... Read her letter. Remember her story...


Friday 13 February 1959

My darling Elvira, I do not know where to begin. You are just a little girl, and it is so hard to explain in words that you will understand why I am choosing to leave this life, and you, behind. You are my daughter, if not by blood then in my heart, and it breaks to know that what I am about to do will be adding to the mountain of hurt and pain you have had to endure in the eight long years of your short life. 

Ivy paused, trying to compose herself so that the pen in her hand would stop shaking enough for her to write. She looked around the large drying room where she had hidden herself. From the ceiling hung huge racks crammed with sheets and towels meticulously washed by the cracked and swollen hands of the pregnant girls in St Margaret’s laundry, now ready to go down to the ironing room and out to the oblivious waiting world. She looked back down to the crumpled piece of paper on the floor in front of her. 

Were it not for you, Elvira, I would have given up the fight to stay in this world much sooner. Ever since they took Rose away from me, I can find no joy in living. A mother cannot forget her baby any more than a baby can forget her mother. And I can tell you that if your mother were alive, she would be thinking of you every minute of every day. When you escape from this place – and you will, my darling – you must look for her. In the sunsets, and the flowers, and in anything that makes you smile that beautiful smile of yours. For she is in the very air you breathe, filling your lungs, giving your body what it needs to survive, to grow strong and to live life to the full. You were loved, Elvi, every minute of every day that you were growing inside your mother’s tummy. You must believe that, and take it with you. 

She tensed and stopped momentarily as footsteps clattered above her. She was aware that her breathing had quickened with her heart rate, and underneath her brown overalls she could feel a film of sweat forming all over her body. She knew she didn’t have long before Sister Angelica returned, slamming shut the only window in her day when she wasn’t being watched. She looked down at her scrawled letter, Elvira’s beautiful face flashing into her mind’s eye, and fought back the tears as she pictured her reading it, her dark brown eyes wide, her pale fingers trembling as she struggled to take the words in. 

By now, you will have in your hands the key I enclose with this letter. It is the key to the tunnels and your freedom. I will distract Sister Faith as best I can, but you don’t have long. As soon as the house alarm goes off, Sister Faith will leave the ironing room and you must go. Immediately. Unlock the door to the tunnel at the end of the room, go down the steps, turn right and out through the graveyard. Run to the outhouse and don’t look back.

She underlined the words so hard that her pen pierced a hole in the paper. 

I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you face to face, but I feared you would be upset and would give us away. When I came to you last night, I thought they were letting me go home, but they are not, they have other plans for me, so I am using my wings to leave St Margaret’s another way, and this will be your chance to escape. You must hide until Sunday morning, the day after tomorrow, so try and take a blanket with you if you can. Stay out of sight. 

Ivy bit down hard on her lip until the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. The memory of breaking into Mother Carlin’s office at dawn was still raw, the anticipation of finding her baby’s file turning to shock as she discovered no trace of Rose’s whereabouts. Instead, the file contained six letters. One was to a local psychiatric unit, the word copy stamped in the corner, recommending she be admitted immediately; the other five had been written by Ivy herself, begging Alistair to come to St Margaret’s and fetch her and their baby. A rubber band was wrapped tightly around these letters, Return to sender written in Alistair’s scrawl across every one. 
She had walked over to the tiny window of the dark, hellish room where she had suffered so much pain and watched the sunrise, knowing it would be her last. Then she had slotted Alistair’s letters into an envelope from Mother Carlin’s desk, scribbled her mother’s address on it and hidden it in the post tray before creeping back up the stairs to her bed. 

Without any hope of freedom, or of finding Rose, I no longer have the strength to go on. But Elvira, you can. Your file told me that you have a twin sister named Kitty, who probably has no idea you exist, and that your family name is Cannon. They live in Preston, so they will attend church here every Sunday. Wait in the outhouse until you hear the bells and the villagers begin arriving for church, then hide in the graveyard until you see your twin. No doubt you will recognise her, although she will be dressed a little differently to you. Try and get her attention without anyone seeing. She will help you. Don’t be afraid to escape and live your life full of hope. Look for the good in everyone, Elvira, and be kind. I love you and I will be watching you and holding your hand forever. Now run, my darling. RUN. Ivy XXX 

Ivy started as the lock to the drying room where she and Elvira had spent so many hours together clicked suddenly and Sister Angelica burst through the door. She glared at Ivy, her squinting grey eyes hidden behind wire-framed glasses that were propped up by her bulbous nose. Ivy hurriedly pushed herself up and stuffed the note into the pocket of her overalls. She looked down so as not to catch the nun’s eye. 
‘Aren’t you finished yet?’ Sister Angelica snapped. 
‘Yes, Sister,’ said Ivy. ‘Sister Faith said I could have some TCP.’ She buried her trembling hands in her pockets. ‘What for?’ 
She could feel Sister Angelica’s eyes burning into her. ‘Some of the children have bad mouth ulcers and it’s making it hard for them to eat.’‘Those children are of no concern to you,’ Sister Angelica replied angrily. ‘They are lucky to have a roof over their heads.’ Ivy pictured the rows of babies lying in their cots, staring into the distance, having long since given up crying. Sister Angelica continued. ‘Fetching TCP means I have to go all the way to the storeroom, and Mother Carlin’s dinner tray is due for collection. Do you not think I have enough to do?’ 
Ivy paused. ‘I just want to help them a little, Sister. Isn’t that best for everyone?’ Sister Angelica glared at her, the hairs protruding from the mole on her chin twitching slightly. ‘You will find that hard where you’re going.’ Ivy felt adrenaline flooding through her body as Sister Angelica turned to walk back out of the room, reaching for her keys to lock the door behind her. Lifting her shaking hands, she took a deep breath and lunged forward, grabbing the nun’s tunic and pulling it as hard as she could. Sister Angelica let out a gasp, losing her balance and falling to the ground with a thud. Ivy straddled her and put one hand over her mouth, wrestling with the keys on her belt until they finally came free. Then, as Sister Angelica opened her mouth to scream, she slapped her hard across the face, stunning her into silence. 

Panting heavily, with fear and adrenaline making her heart hurt, Ivy pulled herself up, ran through the door and slammed it shut. Her hands were shaking so violently, it was a struggle to find the right key, but she managed to fit it into the lock and turn it just as Sister Angelica rattled the handle, trying to force the door open.

She stood for a moment, gasping deep breaths. Then she unhooked the large brass key Elvira needed to get into the tunnels and wrapped her note around it. She heaved open the iron door to the laundry chute and kissed the note before sending it down to Elvira, pressing the buzzer to let her know it was there. She pictured the little girl waiting patiently for the dry laundry as she did at the end of every day. A wave of emotion crashed over her and she felt her legs buckling. Leaning forward, she let out a cry. 

Sister Angelica began to scream and hammer on the door, and with one last look back down the corridor that led to the ironing room and Elvira, Ivy turned away, breaking into a run. She passed the heavy oak front door. She had the keys to it now, but it led only to a high brick wall topped with barbed wire that she had neither the strength nor the heart to climb over. 

Memories of her arrival all those months ago came flooding back. She could see herself ringing the heavy bell at the gate, her large stomach making it awkward to lug her suitcase behind Sister Mary Francis along the driveway, hesitating before she crossed the threshold to St Margaret’s for the first time. Hurrying up the creaking stairs two at a time, she turned as she reached the top and pictured herself screaming at the girl she once was, telling her to run away and never look back. 

As she crept along the landing, she could hear the murmur of voices coming towards her and broke into a run, heading for the door at the foot of the dormitory steps. The house was deathly quiet, as all the other girls were at dinner, eating in silence, any talk forbidden. Only the cries of the babies in the nursery echoed through the house. Soon, though, Mother Carlin would know she was gone, and the whole building would be alerted. 

She reached the door of the dormitory and ran between the rows of beds just as the piercing alarm bell began to ring. As she reached the window, Sister Faith appeared at the end of the room. Despite her fear, Ivy smiled to herself. If Sister Faith was with her, that meant she was not with Elvira. She could hear Mother Carlin shouting from the stairway. 

‘Stop her, Sister, quickly!’ 

Ivy pulled herself up onto the ledge and, using Sister Angelica’s keys, opened the window. She pictured Elvira running through the tunnels and out into the freedom of the night. 

Then, just as Sister Faith reached her and grabbed for her overalls, she stretched out her arms and jumped. 


Emily Gunnis previously worked in TV drama and lives in Brighton with her young family. She is one of the four daughters of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.

Follow her on Twitter @EmilyGunnis
Instagram @emilygunnis
and Facebook @emilygunnisauthor

Friday 3 August 2018

One Little Lie
Sam Carrington
It's my stop on the Blog Tour for One Little Lie by Sam Carrington and today I have an extract for you, so sit back and enjoy!

I think that went well. Connie is going to be helpful, I feel sure
of that. I must be guarded, though. Be careful not to tell too much;
think about how I’m saying things. She’s smart – she’s going to
chip away, use her psychological knowledge to get under my skin.
Attempt to get to the root of my issues. I want that as well, to a
degree. But I need to protect my son, still. I know what he did is
bad, and to some, unforgivable. But he’s my fl esh and blood. A
product of me. And him.
We created him, and I nurtured him. Despite what I try to
tell myself, it’s my fault he’s turned into this monster.
The walk back to the house is slow. The sun is shining, and it’s
quite pleasant – a mild day for February – but I feel heavy.
Cumbersome. I stop a few times, looking into random shop
windows. I know I’m not really seeing anything. My eyes don’t
focus on the displays. It’s like I’m looking past them into the
distance. Into my past. My future. Both are equally messed up.
I need to jolt myself out of this mood.
Should I attempt another visit to her house? I think getting to
the next stage will pull me out from under this dark cloud. It’s
been over a week since I was last there. Standing at her door full
of dread, but with an inkling of hope.
Hope is what I need right now.
I turn and head back to the lower end of town. I’ll get the bus,
go there while I’m feeling bold. No guarantee she’ll be there, of
course. I should try to fi gure out her schedule so I don’t waste
these bursts of courage by getting there and her being out.
I need to be more organised if I’m to achieve what I want.

To order a copy from Amazon click here 

Thursday 2 August 2018

An Italian Summer
Fanny Blake

It's my stop on the Blog Tour for An Italian Summer and today I have an extract for you.


January, 2017
Sandy had been rifling through her mother’s desk for stamps
when she found the letter tucked into a cubbyhole between
a small red address book and some left-over Christmas cards.
Her mother could only have written it weeks earlier when she
was still able to come downstairs. The writing was familiar but
shaky and the envelope not properly addressed. Thinking perhaps
she should finish the job and post it for her, Sandy leafed
through the little book, noting how many names were crossed
out and initialled with a big D. Death had claimed so many of
her mother’s friends before her. But there was no Anna Viglieri
among them, alive or dead, and no one who lived in Naples.
When the nurse had finished washing her mother and giving
her fresh sheets, Sandy returned upstairs, taking the letter with
her. Miriam was lying propped up on a mountain of pillows,
her face pale and gaunt, eyes half open. She managed the
slightest of smiles. Sandy sat close where she could be sure to
be heard.
‘Mum, I found this. Shall I post it?’ She held up the envelope
where her mother could see it. It seemed important to keep
up a pretence of some kind of normality, although it hardly
mattered now. ‘Who do you know in Naples?’ She took the
bottle of Chanel No. 5 from the side and dabbed a little on her
mother’s wrists: the perfume her mother always wore and that
Sandy associated with her all her life.

A flicker of recognition, a movement of Miriam’s head. Her
mouth moved but the words were so faint Sandy had to guess
at them.
‘Find her?’ she said, leaning forward to catch a sound as her
mother’s lips moved slightly. ‘Who is she?’
But the drug being pumped into her mother’s thigh to ease
the pain had reclaimed her. Death wasn’t far away.

Sandy looked at the envelope again. Sra Anna Viglieri.

Naples. While her mother slept, she went downstairs to make

a cup of tea. The nurse was in the kitchen, putting the sheets
in the machine.
‘How long, do you think?’ asked Sandy, a tremor in her
The young woman looked up, kindness in her eyes. ‘You can
never tell. Maybe a couple of days, but I couldn’t say definitely.’
She slammed shut the door of the washing machine.
Having made them both a cup, Sandy left the nurse alone
while she went back upstairs. She paused by the front door to
open the face of the grandfather clock, take the crank from the
plate on the hall table and put it into the winding holes one
after the other. This was a ritual her father then her mother
had performed for as long as she could remember. It felt good
to continue the tradition; steadying. That’s all she had to hang
on to now the last link to her past was about to be broken.
Her relationship with her mother had never been easy. How
she had envied her schoolfriends with their warm kitchens and
mothers who were always there for them, cooking and caring.
But that was long ago, before she was sent away to school, and
now she was the only family member left to see Miriam out of
this world. She went back upstairs, her limbs heavy, walking on
the sage-green carpet that was faded with age, past the pictures
that had always hung in the shadows of the dark stairway. Back

in the bedroom, she took up her knitting, and began to talk
softly. This might be her last chance to say anything important.
‘Why did you push me away, Mum? Perhaps, if you hadn’t,
we might been closer instead of having this strange sense of
duty towards one another.’ She paused. ‘You must have felt
it too or you wouldn’t have been there for me when Matthew
died.’ She thought of her husband with the habitual longing
that still haunted her. When she had been blindsided by his
unexpected death, her mother had come good for her at last:
cooking, doing her laundry, tending her garden, tidying the
house, caring for her – all those things that she had no energy
for herself. And now, only two and a half years after his death,
she was losing her mother. ‘But we did love each other, despite
everything. I know we did.’
Her mother didn’t respond. Just the rattle of her laboured
breathing filled the room.
‘They say a person’s hearing is the last thing to go, but how
does anyone know that? Am I really just talking to myself?’
Sandy felt the tears stinging as they had so often over the
last week as her mother drifted in and out of consciousness.
The two of them would never make up for lost time now.
Everything between them was over. ‘There’s no point in having
regrets,’ she went on. ‘They say that too. But I do have them
– in spades. Why wouldn’t you talk to me about your family
instead of clamming up or changing the subject? In the end
I gave up asking. Just accepted.’ She reached over to pull the
pot of deep-red tulips, the ones her mother loved, to a position
where she might see them. ‘I should have insisted.’
Four hours later, she was still sitting there, having made
another cup of tea and moved from her knitting to the crossword,
although her brain wouldn’t compute any of the answers.
Her mother’s favourite music flowed softly from the ancient
CD player: Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and
Billie Holiday. Staring out of the window at the flat grey sky,

Sandy hummed along to ‘Cry Me a River’ under her breath,
wishing Matthew had been able to die at home. This end to
a life was so tranquil compared to the incessant hubbub of a
hospital ward. He hadn’t known where he was, of course, but
all the same she would have liked him to die in peace. It was
starting to drizzle when she heard a movement behind her. She
spun round. Miriam’s eyes were open, her fingertips touching
the envelope Sandy had left on the bed. ‘Anna,’ she whispered.
Sandy leaned over her again.
‘Who’s Anna, Mum?’
But her mother’s eyes had started to close.
‘Mum! Who’s Anna?’ She was overwhelmed by frustration
and sadness.
The thin white lips moved again. ‘Find . . .’ Then nothing.
Just breath. Perhaps that was not even what she had said. There
was no way of intuiting what might be going round her mind
so close to the end, especially when she was under such heavy
sedation. But more than anything Sandy wanted to believe
that her mother knew she was there and wanted to tell her
‘Find her,’ she said, taking the envelope. ‘Is that what you
meant? Well, I’ll try. God knows how but I will try.’ She slid her
hand into her mother’s and gently squeezed it. In return, she
felt her mother’s fingers tighten round hers. She had heard her.
Twenty-four hours later, her mother was dead.

To order a copy of this book from Amazon click here