For today’s blog tour I have an extract to share with you. This sounds like a lovely read but unfortunately it’s not one I was able to fit into my tbr in time. Many thanks to the publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the tour and sending the extract for me to share.
One crumbling cottage. One broken heart. A chance to start over?
When Annie returns to Thorndale, the village where she spent much of her childhood, she’s looking for a new start. All she wants to do is fix up the cottage her godmother left her, and fix up her broken heart.
When she clashes with local hero, Jon, Annie can’t help but wonder if coming back to Thorndale was a mistake. The village has clearly changed and the last thing she needs is more drama. But avoiding the distractingly handsome Jon is proving impossible, especially when Thorndale seems to be conspiring to throw them together…
Annie is looking for a fresh start with zero romance – but what if the only way to learn to trust again is to take a risk on love?
The perfect cosy romance for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley.
The following morning her new furniture arrived early and Annie hovered while the delivery men hauled the new fridge-freezer and washing machine, along with two small sofas, into her little house. Elizabeth appeared amid it all, bringing a steak pie and the basket of food from the day before, leaving Annie practically drooling as she thanked her, waving goodbye from the garden when Elizabeth hurried off to go shopping for new guests. Once inside Annie laughed in delight; already the cottage was beginning to look more like a home again.
She wasn’t sure what she was going to do about plumbing in the washing machine as she’d forgotten to pre-book it, and after the delivery men had left, taking away all the packaging and the twin tub, she made her way to the outhouse in the hope of finding some tools to help with the job. She reached cautiously along the shelves in the darkened space, spluttering as she disturbed years of dirt and spiders long settled in gloomy corners. At the very back of the shed, long forgotten, she stumbled on Molly’s ancient shopping bicycle, its tyres flat and useless and the saddle split. A basket hung limply from one handlebar and in her mind she saw Molly riding the bicycle, sailing off into the village to visit friends or collect shopping, and Annie’s eyes filled with tears.
Once she emerged from the outhouse – no tools to be found – she desperately wanted a bath. She had a meeting at school that afternoon and really didn’t want to turn up with cobwebs in her hair looking as though she’d been living up a tree protesting about cruelty to bats or something. Back upstairs in the bathroom she was thrilled to find hot water pouring out of the tap and threw in a generous splash of Jo Malone’s Blackberry and Bay bath oil to celebrate, anticipating the pleasure of a good soak. She still couldn’t open the window and steam was already clouding the mirror, but Annie didn’t care as she climbed in the bath and closed her eyes blissfully.
Before long, the water became cool, waking her from her half-asleep state and she reached
for the tap and turned it on, lying back in anticipation of the warmth to come. But moments later she realised there was no more hot water and sat up, cool air already draping itself over her warm body. She climbed out and wrapped herself in a huge white towel, wondering crossly what could have gone wrong now. She ran downstairs, dripping water onto the stone floor in the kitchen while she peered at the Rayburn.
Shivering now, she realised it must have run out of oil and looked around the kitchen, trying to remember where she would find the storage tank. She dashed outside into the sunshine, barefoot, her sopping wet hair hanging down her back. The tank was behind the outhouse and the oil monitor confirmed what she already knew: that the tank was empty, and she had nothing left with which to cook, heat the cottage or the water. And it was Friday morning already. The weekend seemed to stretch ahead as though it were months, not merely two days, as she thought about how she would manage without the Rayburn.
‘Hello, anyone home? Annie?’
Startled, her heart began to beat faster as she pressed herself against the wall, the rough stone cold against her back. She knew that distinctive voice, hoping he would simply give up and go away if she stayed hidden. After a moment or two she cautiously peered around the side of the outhouse and, aghast, saw Jon emerging into the garden as he called her again, realising she must have forgotten to lock the front door. She clutched the towel tightly, desperate for him not to see her like this. But there was no escape, not unless she hurdled the back hedge and she disliked being amongst loose cattle even more than handsome men she barely knew. As every step he took brought him closer to her hiding place, Annie tried to summon a nonchalant expression and emerged to face him, both arms wrapped around her body to keep the towel firmly in place.
She tried to look as natural as possible, pretending it was quite normal to find her soaking wet and practically naked in her own back garden. She saw his eyes widen in astonishment, and the surprise disappeared as a much more sensual expression darkened the blue depths as he smiled incredulously. She knew her face was undoubtedly scarlet and found it very difficult to cling to the idea that the towel offered much of a barrier to all she was certain he was imagining.
‘I’m sorry.’ The smile became a distracted grin as he turned his back towards her. ‘I didn’t mean to disturb you. The door was unlocked, so I guessed you were in.’
‘I was just checking the oil,’ Annie said hastily, aware that her voice sounded shrill and a pulse was leaping madly in her throat. ‘Excuse me, I need to change.’
She hurried past him, relieved he had allowed her enough privacy to dart back into the house and she raced upstairs. A torrent of thoughts flew through her mind as she wondered why he was here, what reason could have brought him to her. She dragged on the first pair of jeans she found and a little yellow top, scooping her hair into a ponytail, and returned to the kitchen more slowly than she had left it. Jon was still in the garden and she knew he was waiting for her to invite him inside.
‘Hi,’ she said casually, taking a moment to observe him until he spun around. The classic fit jeans – with a pager attached to the belt – suited his long legs and a plum-coloured shirt seemed to highlight the unusual blue of his eyes.
Suzanne lives in Lancashire with her family and loves to read. Amongst her favourite books are historical crime fiction and writers’ biographies. Suzanne enjoys cooking, walking, especially in the Lake District, and developing and planting gardens. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.
Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/SnowProse