comedy · cover reveal · friendship · mystery · romance · Uncategorized

Cover Reveal – The Promise of Summer

The Promise of Summer

Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn’t counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   
 
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?

Pre-order Links 

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08R6Q4T66/

Universal Amazon link – http://mybook.to/ThePromiseOfSummer

KOBO – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-promise-of-summer

Publication Date – 22nd July 2021

Author Bio

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written seven best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award. 

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website at http://www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on social media.

Social Media Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/osborne_bella 

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

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

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name

Audiobook · blog tour · book review · British · comedy · humour · satire · series

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – The Corridor

Audiobook Blog Tour: The Corridor by Vic Neal

Author: Vic Neal

Narrator: Jack Hardman

Length: 8 hours 32 minutes

Series: Oxford Uni Corridor Series, Book 1

Publisher: Nice Cake Publishing Ltd

Released: Feb. 14, 2020

Genre: Humor

Continue reading “Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – The Corridor”

book excerpt · book launch · comedy · Giveaways

Book Release Blitz – X-RATED! – plus a giveaway

Xrated

Happy publication day to author Bridget Beasley! Today marks the release of her hilarious book, X-Rated! I have the first chapter for you to read AND the most amazing giveaway– A chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a digital copy of the book!

Book Tour Cover Photo

X-Rated: A virgin. A porn star. A comedy.

Publication Date: February 21st, 2020 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Romcom/ Comedy

Bailey Finch is twenty-four, living in LA, and working for a trendy Sex & Relationships magazine as their entry-level Calendar Editor.

She’s also painfully body-conscious, clinically anxious, and still a virgin.

When Bailey lands the chance to interview Elijah Mattox – coined the Ryan Reynolds of Porn Stars – she seizes the opportunity to befriend the man behind over three-thousand BDSM films, with popular titles such as The Domination of Elia Rose, Dungeon Sluts and Whores of Riverdale County.

As she delves deeper into Eli’s world, and their relationship takes an unexpected romantic turn, she realizes that this piece couldn’t possibly be just an interview. There was something much bigger yet to come. No pun intended.

X-Rated: A virgin. A porn star. A comedy.

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Excerpt

Chapter One – The Dick Cake Guy

Cue: Darude – Sandstorm.

Wait. 99 Luftballons. That’s a much better intro song.

No. That’s not how I want to start this shit show. Or is this supposed to be a romantic comedy? You know, happy ending, lots of tissues, laugh-out-loud dialogue. Brilliant and sweet, with well fleshed-out, dynamic characters. Because that’s usually a thing, isn’t it?

And I’m already rambling.

How the hell do I start this? I’m twenty-four. Name’s Bailey Finch. Yeah, that’s a good name – it’s not just my actual name, but it also looks damn good in print. A good, solid protagonist name.

And the guy? There’s always a guy. I know you’re waiting for the guy.

Well, what to say: Tall? Check. Muscles? Sorta-check. Tattoos? Check. Wry grin and one of those devious smiles akin to Ian Somerhalder? Check and check. One-thousand checks.

His name is Elijah Mattox. He’s twenty-eight years old. Favorite things that I’ve scrounged up so far include Asian-fusion cuisine, Single Malt Scotch, and perfecting his purposely tousled hairstyle. He’s an actor, trying to break into main-stream, silver screen, accolades and Oscars.

As for now, well – he’s only the most renowned Porn Star in the country. Over three-thousand films. Yeah, no kidding.

And here I am, sitting at my desk, pen in hand, trying to conjure up some questions to ask him that don’t consist of how many tits he’s seen and what his thoughts are on the real-to-saline ratio. How many times could he climax in one session? Was his relationship with sex boring now? What is sex like once you’ve made a career out of using your cock?

Was he worried that working in porn might affect his career as a mainstream actor? This isn’t some one-time Kardashian sex tape. Even though I’m sure he’s got one of those floating around somewhere. The guy has history.

Then again, I’ve never actually seen his stuff. Never been much into porn. Even the soft-core variety. I mean, I’ve done a few Google searches in my time. I technically know what a penis looks like. One time in fourth grade, me and my old best friend, Ginny Weirkowitz, looked up Two Girls One Cup, and refused to eat for the rest of the day. Whatever you do, don’t do it. Don’t Google it. My eyes went to hell.

But IRL, I’ve never seen the real thing. I’m a virgin. And I don’t say that to sound interesting, either: I’ve wanted to get laid more times than I could count. I have a vibrator, thank you very much. Have you ever used a Hitachi Magic Wand? Let me tell you…

I’ve just, you know, never had a real dick. I’ve never made love, had intercourse, fucked. Real hands, rough, desperate, passionate. Body-crushing. Mouth-on-mouth action. My only real kiss was Sophomore year of high school, on a dare, and that same guy ended up pouring an open container of spaghetti into my backpack after I reminded our Geometry teacher that he had forgotten to collect our homework.

I tapped my pen against the edge of my desk, glancing around the office: large windows, exposed brick walls, and blown-up copies of magazine covers from over the years, largely featuring notable men and women of the celebrity variety.

This was Come’s first porn-star. Clever magazine name, I know. Come as in, welcome, enter. Come as in…orgasm.

We were known for our sex tips and relationship advice. That said, it’s been agreed upon that fucking in the shower just doesn’t really work. I’ve never even fucked a guy before, and even I can tell you that I know for a fact, unless maybe you’ve got one of those shower-bath combos or a seat in your shower, it’s freaking impossible. I’d like to put out a request: if you’re a woman who has had mind-blowing shower-sex while standing up, please write to me.

I grinned unabashedly, outwardly, probably looking ridiculous. I hadn’t accomplished a lick of work in the past two hours. I couldn’t concentrate. I was hungry: one of those gripping, all-consuming, carb-salt-sugar craving hungers. I wanted a pretzel, doughnut, and Diet Coke, stat.

What do you ask a porn, star, though? What are the questions?

I don’t know, Bailey. Maybe treat him like a normal human male. Like a person. Like you.

I flushed at the thought. Like me, a virgin. A big-mouthed mope of a virgin, with brown hair that was frizzy on good days and unhinged on bad days. Shoulder-length. I wore loafers and slacks to work, button-downs with quirky designs. Today was yellow ducks. But Bailey Finch, as a whole, was painfully unquirky. I was a poser. Inauthentic. Maybe a little too self-deprecating. I was most authentic at home, in bed with my laptop, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, leggings, and cabin socks. The fluffier the socks, the better.

I wondered briefly what Elijah would think of me in comparison to the girls he’d been with on-screen. Did that even matter? No, of course not.

Still, I wondered. Maybe I should flat-iron my hair, or wear shoes with wedges. Lip-gloss vs. lip balm.

Procrastination: I typed out on the keyboard. Failure to concentrate. Here are some random facts: Scotland has 421 words for ‘snow’. Elephants are the only mammals that can’t jump. The first oranges weren’t actually orange. The most common name is Mohammed. Cats can hear ultrasound. Children grow faster in the springtime. Karaoke means ’empty orchestra’ in Japanese.

Delete. Roll eyes. Sigh heavily.

As I sat there, staring at a blank Word document, my boss Deborah – a tall, all-limbs woman, popped her head into my cubicle.

“How are the interview questions going?”

Her expression was vaguely fatigued despite remaining without a single crease or line; her face was elongated, elegant. She had the most delicate bird-face. Long, a pointed nose, elven cheek-bones. Her eyes, two silver buttons, were wide, perpetually surprised. Her foundation was light enough that I could still see the subtle, natural gloss of oil on her forehead. She was, all said, pretty in a pained sort of way. Her ash-blond hair was always styled as if she were ready to step out onto a runway. She wore Louis Vuitton stilettos and a tailored houndstooth-print suit.

“Excellent,” I lied. “I’m wrapping them up now, actually. I’ll email them to you in a minute.”

I’ll email them to you in a minute. Panic. My heart jumped. Why did I always do this? I was a people-pleaser to my core, and it always, always ended up biting me in the ass. I lived in constant pause-or-panic.

“Awesome,” she was indeed pleased. Her smile showed a bit of rose-pink lipstick on her front tooth. “Don’t feel the need to get too detailed with them. Let him lead the interview, if you can. He seems talkative enough in past interviews. He did a very informative interview with Cosmopolitan last fall – we want to go deeper than that. Deeper than male skincare, workout regimens and how to maintain an erection, at least.”

“Do you want me to confirm how many inches he is, exactly?” I inquired.

Deborah laughed.

“These are the imperative questions,” she said. “Yeah. If you can get his favorite lay, too, there’s a good one. Best orgasm story.”

“I doubt his best orgasm has been on-film,” I quipped. “I mean, porn is technically work.”

“Then in a relationship! I don’t really care. I just want the details and we can Jane Doe or John Smith the rest.”

“Gotcha,” I nodded. “I’ll keep it professional. I’ll keep it sexy.”

While still focusing on the fact that he was now looking to step away from the Adult Industry. Maybe he wouldn’t want to talk about anything sexual. He possibly wouldn’t. Maybe he’d find it offensive – like a strain on his shirt that he was hoping nobody would notice, or an unruly cowlick.

Deborah scurried off in the direction of her next to-do, and I shook my head, a common mind-reset practice of mine. Like one of those Etch-A-Sketches.

Elijah Mattox, who are you, sir?

My fingers lingered on the keyboard, hesitant. I pressed my lips together, gave another heavy sigh, and then began typing. Twenty-minutes later, I had produced something palatable. Questions sure to please Deborah, keeping it sexy, keeping it professional, keeping it to the point: Elijah, the whole person. Not just the lead in I Didn’t Know She Was Your Mom: Anal Edition.

I sent the email off. As soon as I hit send, my pocket vibrated. It was also a known fact about myself that I wore pants loose enough to permit for large pockets. I hated purses. I had one, of course, but it contained mostly my wallet, a few old receipts, loose change and three Chap Sticks. I hated fishing for my phone, or taking the time to search for anything, really. Pockets simplify. It’s a beautiful thing.

The text was from Charlie, my roommate.

Charlie: Important. Come to the shop immediately. Consider this urgent.

The shop, as it were, was the bakery Charlie worked at. It was infamous for its cupcakes and house-brew. It also offered a wide array of customized-confectionary.

I clicked my tongue, typing out a response.

Me: At work. Will stop by after.

Charlie’s reply was instant.

Charlie: THERE’S A DICK CAKE HERE. YOU NEED TO SEE THIS.

Charlie: BAILEY.

Charlie: I KNOW YOU AREN’T WORKING. YOU HAVE THE WORST WORK ETHIC OF ANYONE I KNOW. HOW DID YOU EVEN GET THAT JOB?

Calendar Editor, and through an excellent referral at university. It was more of an administrative role, entry-level, truth be told. I worked on the weekly calendar of events for the publisher. This was, officially, my first stint doing an actual interview. My first written-piece, scored through the fact that I just so happened to be replacing the original auteur, who was on Maternity Leave. Everyone else was swamped. This was my one chance, and it had to be good.

My phone vibrated again.

Charlie: THAT WAS MEAN. I LOVE YOU.

I tossed the phone into my purse with a soft thud, forgetting my pocket sentiments. Somewhere out there – that somewhere actually being a bakery in East LA – a Dick Cake existed, which apparently was a must-see. Akin to the Seven Wonders of the World. The Pyramids, or Stonehenge. A Dick Cake. Enough said.

The bakery smelled like burnt blueberry scones and buttercream. Baristas were pouring coffee from French Presses, their hair in updos – even the guys. Long hair was a thing here. They served pastries on small ceramic plates depicting clever quotes and tiny paintings of animals or flora, and espresso, tea, coffee from plain paper cups. No lids. Names were scribbled on the side hastily in black ink. One time I was Bali. Another time I was Bobby. I’ve been Bailie, Baley, and SO CLOSE – Baile.

Charlie was at the counter, grinning ear-to-ear.

“You best not be wasting my time,” I told him. “I’ve got an interview to prep for.”

“Oh, since when do you prepare for anything?” his tone was joking. He was an asshole, but a loving one. “I’ve got a date I should be grooming for, but I’m here, slaving away for the corporate giants.”

“This place is a family-owned. There is literally no other Pastries & Coffee in Los Angeles, or anywhere for that matter. Also, great business name. To the point.”

“Whatever. My pubes look like my dick has a bad perm.”

I shot a quick look over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t blabbering to listening-ears. Etiquette Police. The shop was quiet, with only a few sitting by the windows, lightly chatting, drinking their drinks and eating their croissants or danishes or tiny, adorable tea cakes.

“Who is it this time?” I asked. “Also, where is this aforementioned Dick Cake that you insisted I come here and see?”

He motioned for me to follow him behind the counter, into a small back-room. The counter was covered in frosting (I might have tasted it – vanilla marscapone) and cake scraps. A squat fridge sat in the corner, holding the awaiting custom orders.

I stole a cake scrap and popped it into my mouth. Ginger-lemon. Score.

Charlie carefully pulled the cake from the fridge, resting it on the counter. We both took a step back, just looking at it. Taking it all in.

There it was. Indeed a cake, shaped like a giant dick. Pubes and all.

“Well, shit, you weren’t kidding,” I muttered, candidly in awe. “Who is this for?”

Charlie shrugged. “Don’t know. But the inside is almond and there’s a chocolate-ganache filling. I wouldn’t mind a slice of that D.”

“You are the worst,” I said. He slid the cake back into the fridge, and we walked back out to the storefront. “I’ll take a coffee, black, and a Bear Claw. And tell me about this date.”

“Their name is Sacha. Pronoun: they. Likes watercolor, wearing combat boots, and The Aquabats. Most importantly, DTF.”

“DTF,” I said. “What, are we still in high-school?”

“They literally said it,” Charlie said defensively, whipping out his phone. There it was, a text from Sacha, reading: whatever you want to do. I’m DTF. “Besides, I’m not expecting anything. Just hopeful. Really hopeful. If not, we’ll enjoy the extended version of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King celibately, and I’ll enjoy my blue balls.”

“Follow your bliss,” I told him, taking my coffee and pastry. “Just be safe about it.”

“And you watch out for tall men in sunglasses,” he replied. “Behind you, Bailey. Oh God.”

I turned, completely oblivious, and knocked straight into said Tall Man in Sunglasses.

The sharp sunlight cast shards through the window, and in the brightness I couldn’t really make out his face, but I knew he was grinning. Grinning and soaked in hot coffee. Hot coffee that I had spilled, all over him, because of course I did.

“Ohmygod,” one word. I chocked. “I’m so sorry! Do you want a napkin? No, a towel. I could get you a towel.”

Charlie tossed a rag over the counter, and Tall Man grabbed it with an acknowledging nod.

“It’s fine,” he said, blotting the fabric. “Trust me. It’s a shirt. I have others. Besides, this isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with a spill.”

“Oh.”

Great reply, Bailey.

“Me either,” I stuttered. “I spill stuff all the time. I’m pretty much a walking mess.”

He laughed. I tried to find his eyes behind the sunglasses, but I couldn’t.

“You’re a little weird, aren’t you?” he said, placing the rag on the counter. “Like one of those girls who wasn’t very popular in high-school because they preferred wearing a Harry Potter house robe instead of normal clothes, and hung out in the teacher’s lounge, and watched BBC at home with your cat.”

“What the fuck kind of person says that to a complete stranger?” I snapped. “You don’t know me, dude.”

Tall man laughed.

“You’re right, dude,” he said. “So tell me, what house are you?”

“Hufflepuff.”

“Of course you are,” he said, and then: “I’m a Slytherin.”

“Bullshit.”

“I have a Sorting Hat on my keychain. Here, look:” he pulled his keys out of his pocket, and there it was. It glinted in the sunlight. “See? Guys can watch BBC at home with their pets, too.”

I studied him. Dark hair, obviously fit. Even though it was a wretchedly hot day outside, he wore a black T-shirt and gray hooded sweatshirt, so I couldn’t quite see his body. I tried to fill in the spotty imagery in with my imagination: sinewy, strong, not an ounce of fat. He didn’t look like a guy that ate carbs. No bagels. No muffins. No Bear Claws, obviously. What a miserable life.

His smile was coy. His lips pulled at the corners teasingly. From over the counter, Charlie was on his phone, unphased. The shop had emptied; the afternoon lunch drizzle having dried up.

“Enjoy your afternoon,” he said. There was a distinct conclusion to his tone. The conversation was over. A sense of tension hung in the air; I was intrigued at how someone, with a simple three words, could be so commanding and yet apparently had a nerdy streak.

How nerdy? I wondered briefly. Like, cosplay nerdy?

“You too,” was all I could say. I didn’t bother asking for another coffee. I could feel the paper bag wrinkle in my fist, still holding my pastry. My stomach grumbled. “See you around.”

I wouldn’t, of course. He was just a passerby. I decided it was best to leave.

From behind me, as my hand touched the door, I could hear his brief banter with Charlie: light, nonchalant. And then, as if by some stroke off magic, he said:

“Just here to pick up an order. I’m the Dick Cake Guy.”

I smiled inwardly, pure satisfaction: like the first pop of a pretzel bite into your mouth. Buttery, delicious, so unhealthy but oh-so good.

See you never, Dick Cake Guy.

Available on Amazon!

Giveaway: For your chance to win a digital copy of X-Rated and a $50 Amazon gift card, click the link below! (Giveaway will run from Feb. 21st to Feb. 24th)

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About the Author

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Just another smut-peddler.

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blog tour · book review · comedy · cosy · detective · fun · mystery · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Every Dog Has His Day

By Chloe Grace

Every dog has his day

They say every dog has his day.

Well, today I’ve certainly had mine.
Hey, I’m Albertus Eagle and it turns out I’m an unwitting pet detective. I haven’t always been such a successful legal beagle, but when I’m confronted with a case that is so personal I can’t ignore it, I discover I have a passion for finding those who don’t want to be found.
Cleo the cat. Well, she came along for the ride too.
So, sure I’ve had my day today, but not in the sense of being past my prime. To the contrary, the fun is just starting. And I am buzzing with a new purpose, mixed with a tiny amount of vindictive elation.
Why?
Because, I’ve not only found myself a new home after the untimely demise of my previous owner, but I’ve also made amends with the cat. It turns out she’s not that bad, really.
On top of that though, and this is what really sends shivers racing all the way down my spine to my paws, is that we’ve fingered a killer.
How?
Because you humans, you underestimate us animals. And while you go about your business ignoring our very existence, the cat and I are listening and taking notes.
This is the first full length novel in the Albertus Eagle detective beagle series of animal cosy mysteries, starring Albertus Eagle, and his two sidekicks, Cleo the cat and Bella Schuhmann, the smart human who actually understands him. In this wonderful full length book packed with humour and satire, we see the world of murder and intrigue set up through the eyes of a loyal dog turned amateur sleuth.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NP9VVXK

UShttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NP9VVXK

Author Bio

Chloe Grace is the cosy mystery pen name for romantic mystery author, Karen Botha. While she doesn’t understand animals quite as well as Bella in the Albertus Eagle Detective Beagle cosy mysteries, she does chat along to her rescue dog, Shadow, pretty much all day.

And she’s sure that he chats back.

Chloe lives with Shadow and her hubby in a small outpost of London city—funnily enough it’s a little like where Bella and Albie live. As a family they like to go on walks in the local woods and throw a tennis ball until their respective arms ache, which is usually before Shadow shows any hint of exhaustion.

While her first romance novels were inspired by true life events, the Albertus Eagle series are complete imagination – although her conversations with Shadow can’t be ignored.

Social Media Links

SIGN UP FOR MAILING LIST – https://dl.bookfunnel.com/jgeib0362x
VISIT HER WEBSITE – http://www.karenbotha.com/meet-karen/chloe-grace-cozy-mysteries/
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/ChloeGraceMysteries/?modal=admin_todo_tour
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/karenbothaauthor

My Review

5/5 stars

I’m pretty sure it’s more than obvious, but any book with a dog in it stands a huge chance of pleasing me 😉

Albertus Eagle is a fine Beagle, a perfect specimen, and with a great voice throughout this story. His relationship with Cleo – the cat – is sweet, and funny, and so very natural.

His loyalty to his previous owner is adorable too, as is his growing fondness for Bella who finds them both at the animal sanctuary after the death of their owner, Milly. Taking them home, Bella is in for a shock when it becomes apparent that neither pet is going to accept Milly’s death as having occurred naturally. And so the intrepid duo convince Bella to investigate. I love the idea of Bella, a Dr Doolittle type who can talk to her pets, in fact I’m more than jealous of her abilities.

Together they unravel the mystery behind Milly’s death with many an adventure or escapade in between. It’s a true cosy, but with the viewpoint being all dog which makes for a fun, entertaining, easy to read story. I read this in one sitting, and I blame Albie for that entirely 😉 It is such a fun read, full of mystery and suspense, and some lovely satirical comments from Albie who really can’t believe quite how dumb humans can be. Although, that said, Albie and Cleo might be the stars of the story, but infallible they are not, albeit they do get carried away with infectious enthusiasm.

I look forward to more in this series.

If you need some escapism, this is for you.

For more news and reviews, here are some more blogs to sniff out (see what I did there? LOL)

As always,

blog tour · comedy · contemporary fiction · dark · Giveaways

Blog Tour – The Space Between Time

Tour Banner

Welcome to the month-long mega tour for Charlie Laidlaw’s newest book, The Space Between Time, due for release on June 20th! There will be fantastic bloggers participating, who will be posting interviews, excerpts, reviews, and other exclusive content!

Additionally, there are loads of goodies being given away, so be sure to enter at the bottom!

Book Cover

The Space Between Time

Expected Publication Date: June 20th, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Dark Comedy

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

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Excerpt

Timescale for a Closed Universe

It wasn’t an afternoon that I like to remember, and not just because of my shrieking tantrum. Once I’d calmed down, Mum told me I’d been very silly, because it was all make-believe on a cinema screen. I reminded her that she’d cried when Bambi’s mum died, and that was a film and a cartoon. Mum said that it wasn’t the same thing at all. But I wasn’t being silly because I wasn’t old enough to know the difference between pretence and reality.

Dad had looked pretty dead on the screen. The blood on his chest had looked pretty real. If it had been a different dead person, I would have been OK. Children don’t really know where make-believe ends and the real world begins and, partly because of who I am, it’s remained pretty hazy ever since. I also don’t like to remember that film because it was the moment when I realised that our lives were about to change, and I didn’t know if that would be a good thing.

Sounds strange, yes? Here’s something stranger: I am a child of the sea, I sometimes think, and have done ever since we first moved to live beside it. I feel subject to its vagaries and tempers, with its foaming margins framed against a towering sky. I am familiar with its unchanging mood swings. That’s how I like things; I find the familiar comforting. I find change threatening.

I am the daughter of someone who, not long after that ghastly cinema outing, became one of the most famous actors of his generation and, importantly for me, the granddaughter of a rather brilliant but obscure physics professor. But despite their overachievements, I have inherited no aptitude for mathematics and my father positively hated the idea of his only offspring following in his thespian footsteps. He knew how cruel and badly paid the profession could be. But I still look up to my grandfather, and think of his ludicrous moustache with affection.

Gramps once told me that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth. Just think of all those sandpits, beaches and deserts! That’s an awful lot of stars. He then told me, his only grandchild, that I was his shining star, which was a nice thing to say and why I remember him talking about sand and stars. On clear nights, with stars twinkling, I often think about him.

I still believe in my grandfather, and admire his stoic acceptance in the face of professional disdain, because I believe in the unique power of ideas, right or wrong, and that it’s our thoughts that shape our existence. We are who we believe ourselves to be.

I gave up believing in my father long ago, because speaking other people’s words and ideas seemed like a lame excuse for a job, even if he was paid millions, and met the Queen on several occasions. She must have liked him because she awarded him an OBE for services to film, theatre and charity. Charity! Who the hell told the Queen that?

I stopped believing in him one Christmas Day, a long time ago, when he simply didn’t turn up. It wasn’t his presents that I missed, or even his presence, but the warm, fuzzy feeling of being important to him. During that day of absence and loss I concluded that his wife and daughter couldn’t much matter to him, otherwise he’d have made a bigger effort to get home. That Christmas Day, my father was simply somewhere else, probably in a bar, immaculately dressed, his hair slicked back, the object of male envy and the centre of every woman’s attention for miles around.

In that respect, Dad was more tomcat than father, except that by then his territory, his fame, stretched around the globe. I know this: by then he had a Golden Globe to prove it. He gushed pheromones from every pore, squirting attraction in every direction, and even women with a poor sense of smell could sniff him out.

I feel mostly Scottish, but am a little bit Italian. It explains my name, Emma Maria Rossini; my dark complexion, black hair, the slightly long nose, and thin and lanky body. Obese I am not, and will never be, however much pasta I eat, and I eat lots. It also explains my temper, according to some people, although I don’t agree with them, and my brown cow’s eyes, as an almost-boyfriend once described them, thinking he was paying me a compliment, before realising that he had just become an ex-almost-boyfriend.

But mostly I am a child of the sea. That’s what happens if you live for long enough by its margins: it becomes a part of you; its mood echoing your mood, until you know what it’s thinking, and it knows everything about you. That’s what it feels like when I contemplate its tensile strength and infinite capacity for change. On calm flat days in North Berwick, with small dinghies marooned on the glassy water, and loud children squealing in its shallows, it can make me anxious and cranky.

The sea, on those days, seems soulless and tired, bereft of spirit. But on wilder days, the beach deserted, or with only a hardy dog-walker venturing across the sand, with large waves thundering in, broaching and breaking, then greedily sucking back pebbles into the foam, I feel energised: this is what the sea enjoys, a roaring irresponsibility, and I share in its pleasure. We are all children of the sea, I sometimes think, or we should be – even those who have never seen an ocean or tasted its saltiness; I can stand for hours and contemplate its far horizons, lost within myself, sharing its passion. In the Firth of Forth is the ebb and flow of my past and my existence, wrapped tight against the west wind. It is what I am, placid and calm, or loud and brash.

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About the Author

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I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

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I have 2 signed copies of The Space Between Time to giveaway, 3 fun coffee mugs featuring all 3 of Charlie Laidlaw’s books, and 3 digital copies of the book in the winner’s format of choice! Amazing right? Click the link below to enter!

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June 3rd

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com

Yearwood La Novela (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

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Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

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Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

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Cup of Toast (Review) https://cupoftoast.co.uk

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Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

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Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

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Where Dragons Reside (Excerpt) https://kernerangelina.live/

Inked and Blonde (Review) http://www.inkedandblondeonline.co.uk

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Brianne’s Book Reviews (Review) http://briannesbookreviewsvideo.wordpress.com

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Wrong Side of Forty (Review) http://wrongsideoffortyuk.wordpress.com

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The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

The Reading Chemist (Review) https://thereadingchemist.com/

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Sawdust & Spoons (Review) http://sawdustandspoons.com/

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*Yearwood Novela – http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

Kim Knight (Review & Interview) http://www.kimknightauthor.com

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The Photographers Way (Review) http://www.thephotographersway.org

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Daily Waffle (Excerpt) http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk/

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blog tour · comedy · cosy · fun · women's fiction

Blog Tour Promo ‘n’ Giveaway – The Best Boomerville Hotel

The Best Boomerville Hotel

by Caroline James

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Let the shenanigans begin at the Best Boomerville Hotel …
Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business! 

Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than its fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun-loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself. 

With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?

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About the author

Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications.

Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair.  The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun.

So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama and takes a light-hearted look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune. Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me was runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, 2015 and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.

In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Catch up with Caroline via her website, or on Facebook & Twitter

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book review · cheese · comedy · cosy · France · fun · relationships · romance · women's fiction

Reading for Fun – Fromage à Trois

Fromage à Trois

by Victoria Brownlee


Meet Ella, on the brink of turning 30 and full of regret for a life only half lived.

In a haze of heartbreak after splitting up with the man she thought she was going to marry, she makes the only decision that seems rational and buys a one-way ticket to Paris, embarking on a pilgrimage of food, wine, and joie de vivre.

After arriving, Ella struggles to grasp the nuances of French manners and friendship. She soon finds herself caught between two men who inhabit opposite ends of the Paris food scene, getting wined and dined by one, and inadvertently making a bet to try every type of French fromage with the other.

As the seasons change, Ella realizes that there’s more to life in France than champagne and cheese. At some point the Eiffel Tower stops sparkling and she needs to decide where her heart truly lies.

My review:

This was such an easy story to read because the main character, Ella, is so likeable. The soon to be 30 Australian shrugs off a broken relationship and heads for France for a year of adventure à la Française! And who can blame her? Her former boyfriend of almost a decade has decided he needs to “find himself”, a statement that comes as quite a shock when she really expects a marriage proposal.
The idea of returning to live with her mum and carrying on in the same old job drives her to pack up her things and apply for a one-year working visa in France. What’s the worst that can happen?
Finding a job is not easy, nor is finding somewhere to live. Life in France is much more expensive than she anticipated, especially in Paris. When she finds a room-share in an upmarket part of the city, she feels she has turned a corner. Sharing the apartment with a mother and son is not ideal, especially as the 40-year-old son seems to develop a crush on her. Another move is on the cards, and a new friend at the coffee shop offers her a solution -and a wonderful one at that.
Fortunately, despite a rocky start, the one constant in her life is cheese. and a bet with the owner of the fromagerie sets her a challenge to try all French cheeses during her year-long stay. This is a challenge she readily accepts, after all she’s a cheese-a-holic and there can’t be more than a hundred or so, can there?
Ella’s life begins to revolve around cheese, but steadily she makes friends, finds a French ‘boyfriend’ and her job prospects multiply. She is living her dream life. Isn’t she?

This is a feel-good story, with believable characters and a gorgeous cheese-filled insight into a Parisian lifestyle. There is romance, deception, fun, family, heartache and love – and more cheese than you can imagine. A really enjoyable light read.

book birthday · book blitz · book review · comedy · Egyptian · humour · must-read · mystery · mythology · Underworld · Victorian

Book Birthday Blitz ‘n’ Book Review – Barnabus Tew

Barnabus Tew & The Case of the Missing Scarab

by Columbkill Noonan

Barnabas Tew is a private detective struggling to survive in his trade in Victorian London. Fearing that he is not as clever as he had hoped to be, he is plagued by a lack of confidence brought on in no small part by his failure to prevent the untimely deaths of several of his clients.

Matters only get worse when Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Dead, is referred to Barnabas by a former client (who perished in a terribly unfortunate incident which was almost certainly not Barnabas’ fault). Anubis sends for Barnabas (in a most uncivilized manner) and tells him that the scarab beetle in charge of rolling the sun across the sky every day has been kidnapped, and perhaps dismembered entirely.

The Land of the Dead is in chaos, which will soon spill over into the Land of the Living if Barnabas – together with his trusty assistant, Wilfred – cannot set matters to right. Pulled from his predictable (if unremarkable) life in Marylebone, Barnabas must match his wits against the capricious and dangerous Egyptian gods in order to unravel the mystery of the missing beetle and thereby save the world.

You can get your copy here 

My review:

5/5 stars

Take an egocentric private detective, add in an assistant who you imagine really should be running the show, and put them before Anubis, Egyptian God of the Dead and you have the quirkiest, mystery-solving team in the Underworld.

Barnabus Tew brings a touch of Je ne sais quoi to the art of detection – trouble is, he doesn’t know what that is either. Before his untimely death, all his clients came a cropper too. But it was on the recommendation of one very dead customer that Tew, and his amiable assistant Wilfred, caught the eye of the Egyptian god, Anubis.

Khepre, the Scarab Beetle god, whose job it is to roll the sun across the sky to create nightfall, has gone missing. As a result, the Underworld is stuck in a never-ending high noon that could very well be replicated in the world of the Living if Khepre isn’t found – in one piece.

A severed beetle leg suggests they may be too late!

Barnabus and Wilfred, with more luck than judgement, travel through the Underworld to interrogate their suspects. As they visit other gods, their plight worsens as they face unknown dangers, the like of which they could never have imagined. Many such visits actually make matters worse, leaving them no closer to solving the mystery of Khepre’s whereabouts.

While Barnabus Tew would never be my first choice were I to need a detective, he possesses a charm that had me rooting for him, willing him to do well. His relationship with Wilfred is based on that of a boss and employee, yet it is his assistant who frequently has the ideas when Barnabus stalls for time. Their interaction oozes effortless comedy, yet Barnabus is so, so serious about the task in hand that he always strives to find an explanation for the absurd predicaments they find themselves in.

The narrator’s Victorian tone is a perfect fit. From the moment Barnabus and Wilfred visit the museum to see the Mummy, I was hooked. I’m a sucker for an authentic setting, and while the story soon shifts to the Underworld, the characters continue with their Victorian attitudes and mannerisms – very much in the style of keeping “a stiff upper lip” at all costs.

This is a fun-to-read book with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that will hit you when you least expect them. If you enjoy a mystery with a unique flavour, if you appreciate dry wit, and if you are even the slightest bit interested in Egyptian mythology, then this is a book you must read. The hapless (or is he?) detective and his rational sidekick promise to entertain.

About the author:

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website or find her on Facebook and / or Twitter

I cannot wait to read more. If you agree with me, please be sure to leave a review. Reviews keep authors writing.

Thanks for reading 😉

British · comedy · crooner · entertaining · Memoirs · Sunday's Scraps

Sunday’s Scraps – Living Up to his Name

Week Five of Sunday’s Scraps

Living Up to His Name

#sundaysscraps #comedy #British #memoir #crooner

Oswald Arthur Postlethwaite had a name suited to comedy, but it was his “voice of an angel” that brought him the fame he went on to enjoy.
‘Who in their right mind would lumber their child with such a mouthful of a name?’ He always asked whenever he started his act at the holiday camps.
‘I mean, my initials are OAP! Do I look like an old age pensioner?’ A cheeky smile emphasised his dimples, and his rugged good looks were more than a match for the matinee idols whose faces were plastered on posters throughout the town.
The OAP quip soon became his catchphrase, despite an attempt to later re-brand himself as the more trendy Artie Postlethwaite—although trendy to whom even today is still a valid question.

Born in 1914 to Annie and James Postlethwaite in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, Oswald grew up in his grandparents’ home, a terraced cottage with an outside toilet and no bathroom, with his mother, older sister Lilian, and Nanna and Grampy. His father, a former miner, was away serving in the King’s Own Light Infantry (South Yorkshire Division).
Oswald’s first memory of his father came many months after The Great War ended, when a stranger arrived at their home wearing an ill-fitting, grey suit and holding a heavy Great Coat over his arm, looking like he might drop it at any moment. At only five years old, Oswald’s recollection is sketchy at best and it was only during later years that he grew more aware of the man living in the back room that once had been his Nanna’s precious parlour.
The man screamed and trembled whenever a storm blew in. And, lightning sent him scurrying to his room to take cover under the makeshift bed which had replaced Nanna’s oak table and spindly-legged chairs. Oswald been given strict instruction from Mother not to enter that room, But that didn’t mean he couldn’t watch him from the safety of the staircase. The door had long since been removed to be used as firewood and through the railings, he saw the skeletal person cowering on the floor beneath a pile of blankets and overcoats.’
He often wondered why the man he learnt to call Father acted the way he did. He recalls asking his mother, one day. Her answer came with a huge sigh and a pat on the head for him. ‘It’s the war, my love. It made your father quite poorly.’

Six months later, Nanna died from influenza and his grandfather’s condition worsened. Black Lung disease, a common ailment in the mining community.
Breathing difficulties meant Grampy rarely left his bed and when he did, he’d often collapse, a result of chronic coughing fits. So, Mum banned Oswald from that room too. All he knew of Grampy’s existence was a string of handkerchiefs on the washing line. Mum would pummel the life out of them, scrapping them against the washboard to remove blood and phlegm stains. Then when she’d finished, she’d call him in for a “bath”. The smell of carbolic soap acted as a warning for him. As soon as it hit his nostrils, he’d hide away. She always found him, though. Thanks to Lil. He remembered his mother combing his blond hair after one such bath time.
‘Oswald Postlethwaite,’ she’d say, ‘you’re going to break a few hearts, my boy.’
She always twisted a lock or two of his hair around her finger, ‘Aw, Mum. Don’t do that. Makes me look like a girl,’ he’d say, pouting. He would shrug and wriggle from her grasp while she laughed, her blue eyes wide and twinkling.
Watching her throw the bath water across the yard later that evening, he’d see her wipe away a tear or two, before lifting her face to the skies and mumbling a few words.
‘What are you saying, Mummy?’ Oswald asked her as he was pulling on his pyjamas, the open backdoor drawing all the heat from the room.
‘Just a prayer for Grampy and your father,’ she said, returning to the kitchen and tousling his still damp hair.
‘Are they going to Heaven too?’
She drew him into her arms and sat with him on her lap, swaying back and forth on Nanna’s rocking chair that had been rescued, intact, from the wood pile in the yard
Grampy joined Nanna only weeks later. But his father, still a shell of a man, remained a hermit in the old parlour.

Oswald—and Lilian—attended the village school from the age of five, where the highlight of his day was the mid-morning milk break. His mother always attributed the daily milk drink to her son’s growth spurt, even though his sister—three years older—drank the same milk and still fell short of four feet ten when she left school. She would help her mother with sewing work and also had a daily shift, washing glasses at the working men’s club, but had to stand on a crate to reach the shelves.
One day, Frank Langton, the manager of the club where Lil worked—the same one Grampy had virtually lived in before he became ill—came to see Annie. He was looking for acts to perform at a Gala event in a fortnight’s time. She had sung there a few times in the past and Frank offered her a paid spot on the bill. It was too tempting an offer for Annie to turn down. Although, she told Oswald years later that she’d only agreed on one condition: That he’d be allowed to accompany her and watch from the sidelines.’
It was to be a turning point in Oswald’s life and an experience he’d never forget. ‘Mum spent the next few days singing at every opportunity, belting out tune after tune, hymn after hymn. We could hear her on the way home from school. It was great to come home to such a happy atmosphere. Mum laughed more, even our Lilian lost the dour expression she normally wore in favour of a smile. We’d dance around the tiny kitchen, dragging the table to one side to create more room.’
Annie’s singing was constant— infectious. By the end of the week, he and Lil knew every word too.
As the day dawned, Annie’s nerves intensified. Oswald overheard his parents talking. ‘Frank’s given me a free ticket, as a perk of the job. It’s yours if you want it. Please come and see me, James. The kids’ll be there.’
‘Get me another bottle of ale, love, and I’ll think about it.’
His father had scarcely left the parlour since his return from the war, some four years ago, except to go to the pub and drink himself daft. Bottled beer had just become popular and he remembers how the hallway became home to a daily line of empty bottles outside his father’s room, which now had a curtain draped across the doorway to afford him some privacy. Mother collected the empties every day, giving them to Oswald to return to the brewery and collect a few halfpennies which she then would spend again buying more bottles of Brown Ale for her husband.
‘Do you think Father will come, Mum?’ Oswald asked her when she returned to the kitchen, her eyes red and puffy.
‘Were you eavesdropping, my lad?’
He nodded, gulping back a lump in his throat at her harsh tone.
She just shrugged her shoulders and turned away from him, lifting the lid on a pan of watery soup that had no more licked a piece of meat or a vegetable than he had, since they were living off the last of the week’s rations: dried egg and soup sachets.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Next week’s scraps come from Ramelius – The King’s Own Sorceror.  No longer prepared to let the King continue with his killing spree, Ramelius is forced to act. It’s an act that defines his Afterlife and the lives of many more to follow. This is back story to The Nasrid Charm, my first fantasy. Eek!

British · comedy · every Sunday · mystery · Sunday's Scraps · unfinished snippets

Sunday’s Scraps

Now that I’ve cleared one hurdle – getting Casualty of Court to the finishing line, or rather the publishing line – I’ve been thinking what next to do.
It’s only been a few days, I hear you yell (you did, right? Otherwise those voices in my head are somewhat disconcerting!)

Although I’m ploughing on with the next in The Blackleaf Agency Series, as well as the follow-up to Magic O’Clock, I decided to take a look back at some stories I started but didn’t pursue, for whatever reason.

So, every Sunday (until I run out of material), I shall post a snippet – forevermore to be known as:

Anyone so inclined to read through is welcome to comment and let me know if it has potential or whether it really should stay in the ‘unfinished’ pile permanently.

Note these are all unedited, first drafts – so be prepared for typos, rambling and a whole lot of head-scratching 😉

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

All That Glitters

#sundaysscraps #mystery #comedy #British

Dan can’t sing. He really can’t. So for him to greet me that morning with a tuneless rendition of “Happy birthday” was not the smoothest way to launch me into my fifth decade. My hearing is perfectly fine, in spite of my advanced years – his words, not mine and allegedly meant as a joke. Yeah, right. Still, his mood is infectious and the accompanying bacon sandwich and cup of milky tea rouse me in a more humane way, sufficient in fact for me to block out his well-meant caterwauling.

‘You looking forward to your spa treat, Mill?’

He’s arranged for me and a couple of friends to waste the day at a nearby Spa resort, with pampering treatments galore. It’s his way of apologising for not spiriting me away to the Maldives, or some other luxurious island. He has to work. I understand that. To be honest, I would have been quite happy at home, lounging around in my onesie until lunch. The spa day really is not necessary, but hey, it’s bought and paid for, so it would be churlish of me to refuse it now.

I nod back at him, savouring the bacon and brown sauce, and the demon of all foods, sliced white bread. I’m hardly high maintenance, am I?

‘Still too polite to talk with your mouth full? Your mum raised you proper, didn’t she?’ He grins, knowing that it bugs me whenever he adopts that coarse dialect. I am well aware that my parents speak that way, but he doesn’t need to force it down my throat. Not when I’m eating anyway. My glower is enough, and he lifts his hands in mock surrender, before disappearing into the en-suite. Fortunately the rush of water from the shower drowns out the lyrics that he now strangles.

I will not be rushed though. Bacon is my food heaven, although I’ll be cursing him later when there are crumbs in the bed. I hadn’t planned on changing the sheets on my day off, especially not on my birthday. Sipping at my tea I spy the golden envelope tucked under the plate on my breakfast tray. Hm, that looks interesting. Will my birthday gift will be something of the same colour? In more solid form, of course. A girl can hope, can’t see. Ha, look at me – a girl – no more of that nonsense Millie. You can’t get away with the “girl” tag now.

When I see the card within the golden envelope, I realise it is a little trick, supposedly another joke, to throw me off the scent. The card is garish, with a tacky metallic badge of all things. The message within, however, is cryptic, which for Dan is quite a feat. He’s a clever man, don’t get me wrong, but he hasn’t managed to surprise me with his choice of gift in twenty-five years of marriage, so this cunning ploy intrigues me.

“FIND ME” it reads and below it a QR code provides a meaningless, graphical explanation.

‘Dan! What am I supposed to do with this?’ I scramble out of bed, place the tray on the floor and run to the bathroom, waving the birthday card.

Dan grins at me, the electric toothbrush whirring away so that his comment makes no sense whatsoever. ‘Get your phone,’ he says finally, spitting into the sink.

‘Can’t you just tell me?’

He shakes his head, wiping his face with a towel. ‘It’s a bit of fun. You’re not too old to have fun are you?

On reflection, maybe elbowing him in the ribs was a little harsh, but I’m sensitive about my age. Men don’t get that, do they? Well, at least, Dan doesn’t. He’s five years older and acts like a teenager. He’s allowed to grow a moustache, go grey at the temples and carry a little extra weight – it seems his paunch is sign of contentment. Whereas I face a costly session of waxing and tinting, followed by a deprivation diet – standard punishment for letting myself go! I head for the kitchen, grab my phone, then spend ten minutes looking for my glasses – yes, I’m lacking in that department too!

Meanwhile, Danny boy dresses and squeezes past me once I find my “eyes.” ‘No cheating, Mill. Once you find the treasure, play by the rules. I’ll see you tonight. Enjoy the spa.’ He plants a kiss on my furrowed brow and grins at me, scrolling through my phone for the right app to scan the code.

I mumble something incoherent back at him, my mind is elsewhere. Did he say treasure? A squeal of excitement escapes my lips, only to be dashed by my frustration in not finding a stupid app with some equally dumb name only understood by the younger generation. I’m tempted to smash my phone to smithereens, but then another of Mum’s subliminal messages creeps into my brain – Money doesn’t grow on trees, my girl!

Now what do I do? Calling Toby is not cheating, is it? I haven’t found the treasure yet, so asking my son for help at this stage doesn’t constitute foul play, does it? Just as I bring Toby’s number up, the phone rings. ‘Grrr! Not now,’ I say, but on seeing Eva’s face pop up, I have to answer it – through gritted teeth though. She tells me she’s running late and will meet me at the spa resort rather than pick me up. Great, so now I have to drive. That means no champagne for me. Some treat this is going to be.

As quickly as I can, I end the call and finally get hold of Toby, who to my shock is already up and on his way to a lecture. Atta boy, Toby – your mum raised you proper too. Over the phone he directs me to the much-needed app and within minutes the secrets of the bar code are revealed to me.

An image of a gold box with a huge taffeta bow taunts me. No more than three inches square, but it looks expensive. My mouth goes dry and I can feel my blood pressure rising, a fact confirmed by my red-cheeked reflection in the microwave door. Who is that monster? The digital clock flashes to tells me I have two hours before my first spa treatment. I can’t go looking like this. Those pretty therapists will have a fit if they could see me now – fleecy pyjamas, bed hair and … are those wrinkles? OMG, they`re enormous, like maggots crawling across my face.

‘Oh Dan, where is this bloody box?’ Another glance at my phone offers no further clues, so with reluctance I slope back upstairs to get ready, huffing and puffing with each step. I am too old for games, I’ve decided. Hunting for the box will have to wait till later.

An hour later I emerge from the bedroom, dressed casually and ready to be pampered. One final mirror check. Ugh! I grimace. It’ll have to do. I can’t believe it took me a whole hour to look this casual. I can usually be up and off to work in thirty minutes. Casual is hard work. Especially when I’m only going to put on another robe and towelling slippers.

That’s it! If you’re still with me, thank you so much for reading.

Next week’s scraps come from The Dream Builder – a paranormal tale of a son whose dead mother convinces him to follow his dream to be an architect, particularly if it makes his father suffer.