Sunday, April 11, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Just Get Home



DESCRIPTION:

When the Big One earthquake hits LA, a single mother and a teen in the foster system are brought together by their circumstances and an act of violence in order to survive the wrecked streets of the city, working together to just get home.

Dessa, a single mom, is enjoying a rare night out when a devastating earthquake strikes. Roads and overpasses crumble, cell towers are out everywhere, and now she must cross the ruined city to get back to her three-year-old daughter, not even knowing whether she's dead or alive. Danger in the streets escalates, as looting and lawlessness erupts. When she witnesses a moment of violence but isn't able to intervene, it nearly puts Dessa over the edge.

Fate throws Dessa a curveball when the victim of the crime—a smart-talking 15-year-old foster kid named Beegie—shows up again in the role of savior, linking the pair together. Beegie is a troubled teen with a relentless sense of humor and resilient spirit that enables them both to survive. Both women learn to rely on each other in ways they never imagined possible, to permit vulnerability and embrace the truth of their own lives.

A propulsive page-turner grounded by unforgettable characters and a deep emotional core, JUST GET HOME will strike a chord with mainstream thriller readers for its legitimately heart-pounding action scenes, and with book club audiences looking for weighty, challenging content.

BUY LINKS:
Walmart | Google | iBooks | Kobo

MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   Just Get Home
Author:  Bridget Foley
Publisher:  MIRA
Genre:   Mystery & Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:    352
Date of Publication:   April 13. 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars

When an earthquake hits Los Angeles, Dessa finds that she is too far from her two-year-old daughter Ollie. Dessa left Ollie with a new babysitter for an unusual night out. The earthquake had immediate devastating effects that traumatize Dessa, but she remains laser focused on getting to Ollie.

Another person dealing with the earthquake in this story is Beggie, a teen foster child who was riding around on public transportation in order to avoid the foster home that she lives in. She is badly treated and thus finds herself away from safety now that she is out on the streets. 

Both Dessa and Beggie experience unspeakable horror as they are dealing with the after effects of the earthquake. Dessa is using any means she can to get home to Ollie, and at some point she runs into Beggie. The two reach an unspeakable pact and begin traveling together. Dessa just wants to get home, and tries many times to contact Ollie and the babysitter by cell phone. However, with cell towers being down, Dessa is left in the dark as to the safety of her toddler. 

Beggie's journey is of a different nature, and what ensues is a sad look at her tragic past. Her connection to Dessa during this tumultuous journey is wrought with danger, but they unite in a way that reaches the deepest levels, both of sadness and trust.

Just Get Home is a tension-filled, dramatic and emotional read that was utterly compelling. I was very drawn to both Dessa and Beggie and their individual plights, as well as what ultimately brought them together. As a mother, I could only imagine being separated from my young child due to distance and tragedy, all the while finding unbelievable strength to get to my child. 

I don't read many disaster books, but this one was truly exceptional. The writing was remarkable, the character development was fabulous and the pacing was precise. The emotional edge in this story never once let up, thus giving me all the feels in this amazing book that I simply could not put down.

Many thanks to MIRA and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:
Prologue

Assist the client in gathering possessions.

Beegie saw it written on a sheet Karen had in her folder. An unticked box next to it.

She knew what it meant. Stuff.

But it was the other meaning that soothed her.

The darker meaning. Possessions.

That was the one she worked over and over in her head.

Beegie imagined her case worker holding up a grey little girl, face obscured by black hair and asking, “This one yours?” Beegie would nod. Yes, that’s my monster. Together they would shove one snarling, demon-filled person after another into the garbage bags they had been given to pack her things. Soon the bags would fill, growing translucent with strain. When they were done, she and Karen would have to push down on the snapping, bloody faces of Beegie’s possessions so they could close the back of the Prius.

But Karen’s box remained unticked. She didn’t get to help collect Beegie’s possessions, real or unreal, because Beegie’s stuff was already on the street when she got home.

Two garbarge bags filled with nothing special. Her advocate standing next to them with her folder and its helpful advice for what to do when a foster gets kicked out of her home.

Nothing special.

Just almost everything Beegie owned in the world.

Almost but not all.

Whatever.

After Karen dropped her off and Barb had shown her “Her New Home” and given her the rundown on “The Way It Works Here,” Beegie unpacked her possessions into a bureau that the girl who’d lived there before her had made empty, but not clean.

The bottoms of the drawers were covered in spilled glitter. Pink and gold. Beegie had pressed the tips of her fingers into the wood to pull it up, making disco balls of her hands.

But she failed to get it all.

Months later, she would find stray squares of this other girl’s glitter on her clothes. They would catch the light, drawing her back to the moment when she’d finally given up on getting the bureau any cleaner and started to unpack the garbage bags.

There had been things missing.

That Beegie had expected.

But what she had not expected was to find two other neatly folded garbage bags. These were the ones she had used to move her stuff from Janelle’s to the Greely’s. She had kept them, even though back then Mrs. Greely was all smiles and Eric seemed nice, and even Rooster would let her pet him.

Beegie had kept the bags because she’d been around long enough to know that sometimes it doesn’t work out.

In fact, most times it doesn’t work out.

And you need a bag to put your stuff in and you don’t want to have to ask the person who doesn’t want you to live with them anymore to give you one.

But when Mrs. Greely had gathered Beegie’s possessions, she had seen those bags and thought that they were important to Beegie. It made sense to her former foster mother that a “garbage girl” would treasure a garbage bag.

This got Beegie thinking about stuff. The problem of it. The need for things to hold your other things. Things to fix your things. Things to make your things play.

And a place to keep it all.

In Beegie’s brain the problem of possessions multiplied, until she imagined it like a landfill. Things to hold things to hold things, all of it covered with flies, seagulls swooping.

Everything she ever owned was trash or one day would be.

Seeing things this way helped. It made her mind less about the things that hadn’t been in the bag… and other things.

Beegie picked at ownership like a scab, working her way around the edges, flaking it off a bit at a time. Ridding herself of the brown crust of caring.

Because if you care about something it has power over you.

Caring can give someone else the ability to control you and the only real way to own yourself was let go.

So she did.

Or she tried.

Some things Beegie couldn’t quite shed. The want of them stuck to her like the glitter. The pain of their loss catching the light on her sleeves, flashing from the hem of her jeans. The want would wait on her body until it attracted her attention and then eluded the grasping edges of her fingers.

Excerpted from Just Get Home by Bridget Foley, Copyright © 2021 by Bridget Foley. Published by MIRA Books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Originally from Colorado, Bridget Foley attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television. She worked as an actor and screenwriter before becoming a novelist. She now lives a fiercely creative life with her family in Boise, Idaho.

SOCIAL:
Author Website: http://www.wonderfoley.com/
Insta: @bridgetfoleywriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12378942.Bridget_Foley

Saturday, April 10, 2021

BLOG TOUR - The Silent Girl



DESCRIPTION:

Sophie wakes in a cold hospital bed with no memory of her life before. She isn’t even sure if Sophie is her real name…

The police tell Sophie she was found alone, unconscious and surrounded by blood-red flower petals, on a remote stretch of highway. She had no I.D., no phone, and no one had reported her missing. But while Sophie’s identity is a mystery, one thing is clear: someone tried to kill her and they almost succeeded.

While she’s recovering, Sophie can’t shake the feeling someone is watching her. When a bouquet of red roses is sent to her room without a note, she is convinced they’re from the same people who left her for dead with crimson flowers woven through her hair…

With no one to turn to, Sophie takes a job working high in the mountains, miles from the nearest town, where she feels she might finally be safe. Until more red flowers begin appearing on the front step of her secluded cottage.

Every cell in Sophie’s body is telling her to run. But she is also desperate to know the truth about who she is. If she lets these people catch up with her, she could finally uncover her past… Or once again place her life in terrible danger…

A totally gripping psychological suspense novel that you won’t be able to put down and will keep you turning the pages late into the night. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window and The Silent Patient.

BUY LINKS:
Amazon: http://ow.ly/p5X750DBAOw
Apple: http://ow.ly/2yO950DBAM8
Kobo: http://ow.ly/sBjQ50DBAJc
Google: http://ow.ly/Hyyv50DBARZ


MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   The Silent Girl
Author:  Kelly Heard
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   341
Date of Publication:   April 9, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

Not only does a woman who decides to call herself Sophie wake up in a hospital bed to discover that she has endured serious physical injuries, including being stabbed, it becomes apparent that she has no memory. No idea who she is and why she learns that she was left for dead. The only snippet of memory that Sophie has is the first name of her brother. Quite naturally, Sophie desperately wants to find him and also wants to find any clues to her identity and past.

After some time in the hospital, growing no closer to her identity, Sophie takes a job working at a mansion, one with a dark past. Now working for a man named Nathaniel, Sophie reaches for a feeling of safety, as the has an unexplained sense of foreboding. As time passes, Sophie's living at the isolated mansion she is working to restore comes with a sense of eeriness. In fact, this novel begins to thread together the mystery behind Sophie's past, but also regarding the past of the mansion, thus lending a gothic feel to this story. As Sophie begins to draw close to Nathaniel and to his young son, she has no idea how close she is to danger, especially should her memory be restored.

The character development in this book was spot on. Readers get a good feel of Sophie's nature, despite whatever connections she has in life that led to her circumstances. Nathaniel's character was excellent as well, as his goodness shined through despite his difficult past. I also enjoyed Nathaniel's son Lincoln. He was the bright light in this story. 

The Silent Girl is an engaging and thrilling read, filled with dark suspense and even a bit of spookiness. What is more is that the twists and turns in this book really caught me by surprise. While reading this book, there was no doubt that Sophie would eventually regain her memory, especially due to the fact that she was nearly murdered. The road to these discoveries proved to be shocking, thus leading to a tension filled ending that had me on he edge of my seat. 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Heard is a novelist from Afton, Virginia. She published poetry in literary magazines before signing her debut novel, Before You Go, with Bookouture.

Kelly prefers writing to most other pastimes, but you'll occasionally find her in the garden, hiking, or exploring antique shops.

Author Social Media Links:

Thursday, April 8, 2021

BLOG TOUR - The Bookstore On the Beach


DESCRIPTION
:

For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Kay Andrews, comes New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak's newest standalone work of women's fiction, a big, sweeping novel about family and the ties that bind and challenge us. In this novel, three generations of women from the same family share a house and work together at a bookstore in Colonial Beach over the course of a summer.

How do you start a new chapter when you haven’t closed the book on the last one?

Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers—she still has no idea where he went or why. After being happily married for twenty years, she can’t imagine moving forward without him, but for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort by working alongside her mother and aunt at their quaint bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a life change neither of them saw coming and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into Quinn Vanderbilt—the boy who stole her heart in high school—old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

BUY LINKS:



MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   The Bookstore on the Beach
Author:  Brenda Novak
Publisher:  MIRA
Genre:   Women's Fiction; Romance
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   448
Date of Publication:   April 6, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars

Autumn Divac loved spending summers with her mother and aunt, and enjoyed spending time working in their bookstore. However, the previous summer they did not go. The reason Autumn couldn't bring herself to make the yearly trip is that her husband has gone missing. Autumn spent time, money and energy desperately looking for clues as to his disappearance, including hiring private investigators.

It has now been eighteen months and her teens are getting older, so Autumn and the kids head to visit their mother. Autumn really feels at home at the bookstore, and is quite close to her mother. However, during this trip, Autumn's life takes on even more changes. For one thing, she starts to uncover a secret that he mother has held onto for decades. Even more is that a love interest enters her life, and she is not sure that she can move on.

When Autumn discovers that her boyfriend from high school, Quinn, is in town, her heart becomes torn. They end up spending a lot of time together, and Autumn must decide if she will indeed let Quinn into her life, or whether or not she will keep searching for and hoping for her husband's return.

What a compelling, emotional read! I love that this book dealt with Autumn learning to listing to her heart despite being in limbo. Also, what was going on with her mother was quite an interesting and touching story and that was developed quite well. Then there is the side story involving Autumn's daughter Taylor and the changes that the seventeen-year-old is facing and the choices she makes. Also, the setting was terrific as I am an avid reader and enjoy any book in bookstore settings. All of these threads came together to deliver a fabulous story, one which made me feel for the characters and stay invested in this wonderful story by Brenda Novak from beginning to end. 

Many thanks to MIRA and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion. 

Please enjoy the following excerpt:
CHAPTER 1

Tuesday, June 8

Today her daughter was returning for the summer. Mary Langford gazed eagerly out at the street in front of her small bookstore, looking for a glimpse of Autumn’s car and, when she saw nothing except a large family going into the ice cream parlor at the end of the block, checked her watch. Three-thirty. Autumn had called at lunchtime to say that she and the kids were making good time. They probably wouldn’t be much longer.

“You’ve been quiet today,” Laurie commented from where she sat behind the counter, straightening the pens, tape, stapler and bookmarks.

Mary turned from the large front window she’d recently decorated with posters of the hottest new releases. “I worry when she’s on the road for so long.”

“She’ll make it, and it’ll be great to see her and the kids. They haven’t been back since Christmas, have they?”

“No.” She picked up the feather duster and began cleaning shelves—a never-ending job at Beach Front Books, which she and Laurie owned as 50/50 partners. Autumn lived in Tampa, Florida, far enough away that it wasn’t easy to get together when Taylor and Caden were in school. “And I doubt they’ll come back for the holidays this year.” Fortunately, they were more consistent about returning for the summer—except for last summer, of course, which was understandable. Mary hoped she’d be able to count on that continuing, but with the kids getting older, nothing was certain. Taylor had only one more year of high school before heading off to college. Caden had two. Mary feared this might be the last time, for a while, they’d all be together in Sable Beach.

“You could go visit them,” Laurie pointed out.

Autumn had invited her many times. Remembering the arguments her refusal had sparked over the years caused Mary’s stomach to churn. She wanted to go to Tampa, wanted to make it so that her daughter wouldn’t have to do all the traveling. Autumn had been going through so much lately. But the thought of venturing into unfamiliar territory filled Mary with dread. Other than to go to Richmond occasionally, which was the closest big city, she hadn’t left the sleepy Virginia Beach town she called home in thirty-five years. “Yes, but you know me. This is the only place I feel safe.”

Laurie rocked back on the tall stool. “Well, if the fear hasn’t gone away by now, I guess it’s not going to.”

“No. I don’t talk about it anymore, but the past is as real to me now as it’s ever been.”

Although the store had been busy earlier, what with the influx of tourists for the season, foot traffic had slowed. When that happened, they often talked more than they worked. Beach Front Books wasn’t Laurie’s sole source of income. Her husband, Christopher Conklin, was a talented artist. He painted all kinds of seascapes, and while he wasn’t in any prestigious galleries, he sold his paintings in a section they reserved for him in the store as well as online.

But Mary, who’d never been married, had no other support. Beach Front Books didn’t make a large profit, but no one loved the escape that books provided more than she did, and the store garnered enough business that she could eke out a living. That was all that mattered to her.

“Autumn gets so mad that I won’t go out and see the world. Visit. Travel. That sort of thing,” she murmured, wishing she didn’t have the scars and limitations that had, at times, put such a strain on their relationship. “She keeps saying I’m too young to live like an old lady.”

“She has a point.”

Mary sighed. “I’m not young anymore.”

“What are you talking about? You’re nine years younger than me. Fifty-four is not old.”

That was true, but she’d had to grow up far sooner than most people. “I feel ancient.”

“Next year, you should go to Tampa, if they ask you.”

She shook her head. “I can’t.”

“Maybe you’ll prove that you can.”

Mary couldn’t help bristling. She didn’t like it when Laurie pushed her. “No.”

“Autumn doesn’t understand, Mary. That’s what causes almost every fight you have with her.”

“I know. And I feel bad about that. But there’s nothing I can do.”

Laurie lowered her voice. “You could tell her the truth…”

“Absolutely not,” Mary snapped. “Why would I ever do that?”

“There are reasons. And you know it. We’ve talked about this before,” Laurie said, remaining calm, as always. That was one of the many things Mary liked about her—she was steady and patient, and that steadiness somehow helped Mary cope when old feelings and memories began to resurface.

In this instance, Laurie might also be right. Mary could feel the past rising up from its deep slumber. Maybe it was time to tell Autumn.

But there were just as many reasons not to—compelling reasons. And the thought of revealing the past, seeing it all through her daughter’s eyes, made Mary feel ill. “I can’t broach that subject right now, not with what she’s been dealing with the past year and a half. Besides, it’s been so long it’s almost as if it happened to someone else,” she said, mentally shoving those dark years into the deepest recesses of her mind. “I want to stay as far away from that subject as possible.”

Laurie didn’t call her out on the contradiction her statement created. And Mary was glad. She couldn’t have explained how it could be real and frightening and always present and yet she could feel oddly removed from it at the same time.

“Except that it didn’t happen to someone else,” Laurie responded sadly. “It happened to you.”

* * *

The scent of the ocean, more than anything else, told Autumn she was home. She lowered her window as soon as she rolled into town and breathed deeply, letting the salt air fill her lungs.

“What are you doing?” Taylor held her long brown hair in one hand to keep it from whipping across her face as she looked over from the passenger seat.

Autumn smiled, which was something she knew her children hadn’t seen her do enough of lately. “Just getting a little air.”

“You hate it when I roll down my window,” Caden grumbled from the backseat.

“I’m hoping I won’t be so irritable anymore.” For the past eighteen months, Autumn had been mired in the nightmare that had overtaken her life. She almost hadn’t come to Sable Beach because of it. But when her children had each pleaded with her, separately, to ask if they could spend the summer with “Mimi” like they used to, she knew they needed some normalcy in their lives—needed to retain at least one of their parents. Her grief and preoccupation with her husband’s disappearance had probably made them feel as though she’d gone missing, too—at least the mother they’d known before. She hoped by returning to the place that held so many wonderful memories for them all, they’d be able to heal and reconnect.

It wasn’t as if she could do anything more for Nick, anyway. That was the ugly reality. She’d exhausted every viable lead and still had no idea where he was. If he was dead, she had to figure out a way to go on without him for the sake of their children.

The second she spotted the bookstore, the nostalgia that welled up—along with memories of a simpler, easier time—nearly brought her to tears. When she was a little girl, she’d spent so many hours following her mother through the narrow aisles of that quaint shop, which looked like something from the crooked, narrow streets of Victorian London, dusting bookshelves or reading in the nook her mother had created for her.

She’d spent just as much time at Beach Front Books when she was a teenager, only then she was stocking shelves, ordering inventory, working the register—and, again, reading, but this time sitting on the stool behind the counter while waiting for her next customer.

God, it was good to be back. As hard as she could be on her mother for her unreasonable fears and idiosyncrasies, she couldn’t wait to see her. Until this moment, she hadn’t realized just how much she missed her mother. So what if Mary was almost agoraphobic with her unwillingness to leave her little bungalow a block away from the sea? She was always there, waiting to welcome Autumn home. Maybe Autumn had never had a father, or the little brother or sister she’d secretly longed for, but she was lucky enough to have the enduring love of a good mother.

“There it is.” She pointed to the bookstore as she slowed to look for a place to park.

“We’re not going to the beach house?” Caden asked, looking up from whatever he’d been doing on his phone.

“Not right now. First, we’re stopping to see Mimi and Aunt Laurie. Then we’ll take our stuff over to the house.”

A glance in the rearview mirror showed her his scowl. “I hope it won’t be too late to go to the beach,” he said.

“I’m sure we can manage to get there before dark,” she responded as she wedged her white Volvo SUV between a red convertible and a gray sedan and grabbed her purse.

Taylor spoke, causing her to pause with her hand on the door latch. “You already seem different.”

“In what way?” Autumn asked.

“Less uptight. Not so sad.”

“Coming here makes me happy,” she admitted.

“Then why were we going to skip it again?” Caden asked.

Autumn twisted around to look at him. “You know why.”

A pained expression claimed her daughter’s face. “Does this mean you’re letting go?”

“Of Dad? Of course she’s letting go,” Caden answered, the hard edge to his voice suggesting he considered the question to be a stupid one. “Dad’s dead.”

“Don’t say that!” Taylor snapped. “We don’t know it’s true. He could be coming back.”

“It’s been eighteen months, Tay,” Caden responded. “He would’ve come back by now if he could.”

“Stop it, both of you.” Autumn didn’t want them getting into an argument right before they saw her mother. They were at each other’s throats so often lately; it drove her crazy to constantly have to play referee. But she could hardly blame them. They’d lost their father, and they didn’t know how or why. And she had no explanation. “Life’s been hard enough lately,” she added. “Let’s not make it any harder.”

“Then you tell her,” Caden said. “Dad’s dead, and we have to move on. Right? Isn’t that the truth? Go ahead and say it—you are letting go.”

Was she? Is that what this trip signified? If not, how much longer should she hold on? And would holding on be best for them? She couldn’t imagine her kids would want to spend another eighteen months swallowed up by grief and consumed with seeking answers they may never find. Taylor was seventeen, going to be a senior and starting to investigate colleges. Caden was only a year behind her. Surely, they would prefer to look forward and not back.

Regardless, Autumn wasn’t sure she could continue to search, not like she had. She was exhausted—mentally and physically. She’d put everything she had into the past year and a half, and it hadn’t made a damn bit of difference. That was the most disheartening part of it.

“I’m continuing to hold out hope,” she said, even though everyone she’d talked to, including the FBI, insisted her husband must be dead. It was difficult to see the idyllic, two-parent upbringing she was trying to give her kids—something she’d never had herself—fall apart that quickly and easily, and the heartbreak, loneliness and frustration of looking for Nick, with no results, created such a downward spiral for her. She knew it had been just as painful for her children. That was why maybe she should let go—to provide the best quality of life for them as possible.

“What does that mean? Are you going to keep looking for him?” Caden pressed. “Is that how you’re going to spend the summer?”

He could tell something had changed, that coming here signified a difference, and he wanted to reach the bottom line. But Autumn wasn’t ready to admit that she’d failed. Not with as many times as she’d tried to comfort them by promising she’d have answers eventually.

She opened her mouth to try to explain what she was thinking in the gentlest possible way when she spotted her mother. Mary had come out of the store and was waving at them.

“There’s your grandmother,” she said.

Thankfully, her children let the conversation lapse and got out of the car.

“Hi, Mimi.” With his long strides, Caden reached Mary first. Although he wasn’t yet fully grown, he was already six-one. And Taylor was five foot ten. They were both tall, like their father.

Mary gave each of the kids a big hug and exclaimed about how grown-up they both were and how excited she was to see them before turning to Autumn.

“You’ve lost weight,” she murmured gently, a hint of worry belying her smile before they embraced.

“I’m okay, Mom.” Autumn could smell a hint of the bookstore on Mary’s clothes and realized that was another scent she’d never forget. It represented her childhood and all the great stories she’d read growing up. She’d once hoped to read every book in the store. She hadn’t quite made it, thanks to new releases and fluctuating inventory, but she’d read more books than most people. She still considered books to be a big part of her life. “It’s good to be home.”

“Laurie’s dying to see you. Let’s go in and say hello,” Mary said and held the door.

As soon as the bell sounded, Laurie hurried out from behind the register. “There you are! It’s a good thing you came when you did. I was afraid it would drive your mother crazy waiting for you. She’s been so anxious for you to arrive. We both have.”

Taylor allowed her aunt to give her an exuberant squeeze. “I’m glad we got to come this year. Where’s Uncle Chris?”

“Probably on the beach somewhere, painting. You know how he is once the weather warms up—just like a child, eager to get outdoors.”

They took a few minutes to visit the small section of the store dedicated to Christopher’s work so they could admire his latest paintings. Autumn was especially enamored with one he’d done of the bookstore that portrayed a child out front, hanging on to her mother with one hand and carrying a stack of books with the other. That child could’ve been her once upon a time. She almost wondered if his memory of her had inspired it, which was why she decided, if that painting didn’t sell before she left, she’d buy it herself and take it back to Tampa.

Fortunately, she had the money. As a corporate attorney, Nick had always done well financially. After the first few years of their marriage, which he spent finishing school, they’d rarely had to scrimp. But it was what he’d inherited when his father passed away that’d really set them up. After Sergey’s death, Autumn had quit working as a loan officer for a local bank and, for the past ten years, had focused on her family, her home, gardening and cooking. Her financial situation was also one of the reasons she rejected the idea that Nick might’ve left her for another woman, a possibility that had been suggested to her many, many times. Why would he leave his children, too, and walk away without a cent? Sure, they’d had their struggles, especially in recent years, when his work seemed to take more and more of his time and attention, but neither of them had ever mentioned separating.

“This is amazing,” she exclaimed as she continued to study the little girl in the painting. “I love Chris’s work.”

“The last original he donated to charity went for six thousand dollars,” Laurie announced proudly.

“Who bought it?” Autumn asked. If whoever it was lived in Sable Beach, chances were good she’d know him or her.

“Mike Vanderbilt, over at The Daily Catch. He was drunk when he got into a bidding war for it, and now it’s hanging in his restaurant. I think he’s glad to have it, but I imagine he also sees it as a reminder not to raise his paddle when he’s been drinking.”

They all laughed to think of the barrel-chested and good-natured Mike letting alcohol bring out his competitive nature.

“His wife must be doing well, then,” Autumn said. “She’s still in remission?”

Laurie shot Mary a surprised glance, and it was Mary who answered. “I’m afraid not. She was when he bought that painting, but they received word just a couple of months ago that Beth’s breast cancer has come back.”

“Oh no,” Autumn cried. Everyone knew the owners of The Daily Catch. They did a lot for the community. And it was her favorite restaurant. When she was home, she ate there all the time. “What’s her prognosis?”

“Not good. That’s why Quinn has moved home from that little town in upstate New York. He helps his father with the restaurant these days. I’m sure he’s also here to spend time with his mother before…well, before he has to say goodbye to her for good.”

“Quinn’s home?” Autumn said. She wasn’t expecting that; the mention of his name knocked her a little off-kilter. When he was a senior and she was a junior, she’d given him her virginity in the elaborate tree house that was in his backyard, even though he hadn’t been nearly as interested in being with her as she was him. And then he’d broken her heart by getting back together with his girlfriend, the same woman he married five years later. “So his wife and kids are here now, too?”

“No, he doesn’t have any kids,” Laurie said, chiming in again. “And he and Sarah—what was her maiden name?”

“Vizii,” Autumn supplied.

“Yes. Vizii. They divorced almost two years ago. You didn’t know?”

“How would I?” She’d seen nothing about it on social media, but then, Quinn had never been on social media, and she’d never been able to find Sarah, either—not that she’d checked recently because she hadn’t. “I haven’t seen him since he was working as a lifeguard at the beach after his first year of college and he had to swim out and save me from drowning.” She didn’t add that she’d faked the whole episode just to get his attention. She was mortified about that now and cringed at how obvious it must’ve been to him.

“I’m surprised the gossip didn’t reach you all the way down in Tampa,” Laurie said. “For a while, it was about the only thing anyone around here could talk about.”

But who would tell her? Her mother wasn’t much for gossip, which was ironic, considering she’d lived in Sable Beach for so long. The town where Autumn had been raised took talking about their friends and neighbors to a whole new level.

“Why would his divorce be such big news?” she asked. Besides being one of the most popular boys in school, Quinn had been handsome, athletic and at the top of his class—undoubtedly one of Sable Beach’s finest. But still. Divorce was so commonplace it was hardly remarkable anymore. And Quinn was thirty-nine. He’d been gone from this place—except for when he visited his folks—for twenty-one years. How could what was going on in his life be such a hot topic?

Laurie tilted her head toward Taylor and Caden in such a way that Autumn understood she was hesitant to speak in front of them. “There were some…extenuating circumstances. Have your mother tell you about it later.”

“I want to hear,” Caden protested.

“Why? We don’t even know him.” Taylor jumped in before Autumn could respond, then Caden snapped at her to shut up and they started arguing again.

“Don’t make Mimi regret inviting us.” Autumn rolled her eyes to show how weary she was of this behavior.

“Should we go over and get you settled in?” Mary asked. “Laurie offered to close the store tonight, so I’m free to start dinner while you unpack.”

“Sure,” Autumn said. Once Caden and Taylor got to the beach, maybe they’d mellow out and fall into the same companionable rhythm they usually achieved when they came to Sable Beach.

Her mother’s house seemed the same, except that its shingle siding was now white instead of green. It had needed a fresh coat of paint, and the white looked clean and crisp. But as much as she loved the update, Autumn was relieved to find that nothing else had changed. Visiting Mary was like going back in time. Not many people could do that twenty years after they’d left home.

Because it was such a small cottage, Caden had to sleep on the couch, Taylor took Autumn’s old room next to Mary’s, and the three of them shared the only bathroom, which was off the hallway. Autumn slept above the detached garage, where she had her own bed and bath, thanks to Nick. Because he’d typically had to work when she brought the kids, he’d never spent more than a few days at a time in Sable Beach. That had caused more than a few arguments over the years, so she’d readily agreed when he’d insisted they have their own space for when he did come. She’d thought it might mean he’d accompany them more often, or stay a little longer when he did. It made no difference in the end, but he was the one who’d hired an architect to create the plans to finish off the top of the garage, even though it had been Autumn who’d picked out the finishes and colors.

A wave of melancholy washed over her as she left the kids with her mother to get settled in at the main house, let herself into the garage and climbed the narrow stairs at the back to the apartment, where she’d be living for the next few months, by herself. As often as she’d been here over the years, it felt strange to know that Nick would not be visiting. At times, she was still so lost without him.

“Where are you?” she whispered as she walked around, touching the things he’d touched. She’d come for Christmas without him, but she and Taylor had shared her old room in the house. They could do that for a week or so but not for three months—not without wanting to turn around and head straight home.

She stopped in front of the dresser, where her mother had put a picture of her family. She’d known her husband was getting involved in something secretive, that a friend who was with the FBI had recruited him for his knowledge of Ukraine. Because his parents had emigrated from there, he’d known the language, was familiar with the customs and still had a few relatives in the country. That made him useful in what had become a very troubled region.

Although he couldn’t tell her exactly what he was doing for the government, she guessed he was working in counterterrorism, probably trying to infiltrate various radical groups. She’d read that the FBI sometimes used civilians who were particularly adept with computers, or had some specific knowledge or ability, to assist them.

Maybe he’d become a full-fledged spy, and whoever was on the other side had discovered his activities. The FBI claimed they hadn’t sent him to Ukraine to begin with, but she’d discovered that he’d flown into Kyiv before disappearing and had no idea why he’d go there if not at their request. If he wanted to reacquaint himself with his uncle and cousins, he would’ve told her. Besides, the family he had there claimed they hadn’t heard from him. She’d traveled halfway across the world to speak to them face-to-face—not that the long, tiring trip had accomplished anything.

She lifted her suitcase onto the bed and was unpacking her clothes when her mother came up. “The kids would like to go to the beach before we have dinner, but I told them I’d rather they not go alone.”

“Mom, they’re sixteen and seventeen,” she said. “Kids that age go to the beach by themselves all the time.”

“Still. I don’t mind walking down with them.”

That was her mother’s polite way of saying she was afraid they wouldn’t be safe and felt the need to watch over them. Mary had always been overprotective. But Autumn managed not to say anything. What would it hurt for their Mimi to walk down to the water with them? There was no need to transfer the suffocation she’d felt to her children, especially because they’d had to put up with so much less of it. “Okay.”

“Would you like us to wait for you?”

“No, I’ll find you in a few minutes.”

With a nod, her mother turned to leave but paused before descending the stairs. “It can’t be easy for you to stay out here, knowing that Nick won’t be coming. Would you rather we make other arrangements, like we did at Christmas? Have you stay in the house with us?”

Unless Nick suddenly showed up, she’d have to brave it at some point, wouldn’t she? It might as well be now. “No. There’s not enough room. Taylor and I both need our space.”

“If you’re sure.”

“Mom?”

She looked up. “Yes?”

“Before you go, tell me what Laurie was referring to at the bookshop.”

“About…”

“Quinn and Sarah,” she said.

“Oh. No one really knows exactly what happened,” her mother said.

“There must’ve been a story circulating.” And she was eager to focus on something besides her own troubles for a change. She could see Nick’s rain boots in the corner of the room and knew there would probably come a time—in the not-too-distant future—when she would have to make the difficult decision about what to do with them.

She couldn’t even imagine that. But she had a whole houseful of his belongings in Tampa, and if he didn’t come back, she’d have to decide what to do with all of it. Should she box it up and put it in storage? Stubbornly continue to wait? And if so, for how long?

Her mother seemed as reluctant as ever to repeat gossip, but she must’ve understood that what’d happened to Quinn might create a good distraction, because she finally relented. “Sarah claims he was having an affair, which caused her to fly into a jealous rage and stab him.”

This was not what Autumn had expected. “Did you say stab him?”

Her mother frowned. “I’m afraid so.”

“But…he must be okay. Laurie said he was here, helping his father run the restaurant.”

“She didn’t hit anything vital, thank goodness. But I heard he spent a few days in the hospital, so his wounds weren’t superficial, either.”

Autumn whistled as she imagined how bad their marriage must’ve been for something like that to happen. “I thought they’d be happy together. They dated for so long before they got married. It’s not as if they didn’t know each other well.” She sank onto the bed next to her suitcase. “Did he admit to cheating?”

“Not that I know of.”

“But you think he did—cheat, I mean.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. Something had to have made her react so violently.”

Mary never gave the benefit of the doubt to a man. Autumn had noticed this before and assumed her father was to blame. Although Mary refused to talk about the past—went rigid as soon as Autumn mentioned her father—there were times, more of them as she got older, when she found herself wondering who he was and what he was like. Before Nick went missing, she’d told her mother that she was tempted to try to look him up, and Mary had been so appalled—that Autumn would have any interest in him when he was such a “bad person”—that she’d dropped the idea.

It was something she thought she might like to revisit, though. Times had changed. Nowadays, a simple DNA test could possibly tell her a great deal. And there were moments when she felt she should be allowed to fill in those blanks.

But she hated to proceed without her mother’s blessing. She owed Mary a degree of loyalty for being the parent who’d stuck with her.

Finished unpacking, she put her empty suitcase in the closet while trying to ignore Nick’s snorkel gear, which was also in there, changed into her bathing suit and cover-up, slipped on her flip-flops and grabbed her beach bag. She was on her way down the stairs when she heard her phone buzz with an incoming call.

Assuming it would be her mother or one of her children, wondering what was taking her so long, she dug it out of her bag so that she could answer. But according to Caller ID, the person attempting to reach her wasn’t a member of the family. It was Lyaksandro Olynyk, the Ukrainian private investigator she’d hired to look for Nick.

It was seven hours later in that part of the world. Why would he be calling her in the middle of the night?

Excerpted from The Bookstore on the Beach by Brenda Novak, Copyright © 2021 by Brenda Novak, Inc. Published by MIRA Books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a five-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader's Choice, the Bookseller's Best, the Bookbuyer's Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.

SOCIAL:
TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak
FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor
Insta: @authorbrendanovak

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

BLOG TOUR - My Husband's Girlfriend


DESCRIPTION
:

She told my little boy a secret and now he’s gone…

Tucking her little boy Ollie into bed one night, Sarah notices his beloved teddy bear, which she bought him when he was born, is missing and in its place is a new toy given to him by her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, Laura. When she asks Ollie about it, he begins to shift uncomfortably, before whispering ‘Laura told me a big secret and she said I can never tell you’.

Sarah’s heart sinks. But when she raises her concerns, nobody wants to listen. To everyone else, Laura is the perfect stepmother and Sarah is just the jealous ex-wife. But Sarah knew the moment she met Laura she couldn’t trust her, from her overly perfect stepmother act to the way she evaded questions about her own history.

Soon Ollie is asking to spend more time with his dad and Laura, and shrinking away from Sarah. Then, when she calls to him in the garden one day, Ollie doesn’t answer back. The garden is silent. Ollie’s sandpit is empty. Ollie has disappeared.

If you love a book that keeps twisting and turning, then you’ll love My Husband’s Girlfriend – it’s guaranteed to keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Claire McGowan, Shalini Boland and Lisa Jewell.


BUY LINKS:

MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   My Husband's Girlfriend
Author:  Sheryl Browne        
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   
Date of Publication:   April 7, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

Sarah begins to worry about her son Ollie after a visit with his father and his new girlfriend. Ollie has always had a comfort toy for sleep, and one night, she realizes he has a new toy and he - in the innocent way a toddler speaks - says that Laura, her ex's girlfriend, gave it to him and that he has a secret.

Quite naturally, Sarah begins to worry. Of course, her ex is unconcerned. Even her friends are not concerned. Sarah takes measures right away, and this includes meeting Laura one-on-one. Laura seems ideal so perhaps Sarah is worried for nothing. However, a mother's instinct is strong. And Sarah soon realizes that she definitely has things to worry about.

In this compelling read by one of my most enjoyable authors, we see Sarah making strides to work well with the split custody. As the characters came into play it was easy to put myself in Sarah's shoes, but also Laura's as a stepmother trying to win over a small child. However, in true fashion for a psychological thriller, there were some things that were just not right.

In fact, this book dealt with touching issues, and one of those is loss. How did loss play into the growing relationships with Sarah's son and Laura? As things developed in this compelling read, pieces of a jumbled puzzle soon began to fall into place. This story had surprising twists and turns, as well as rabbit trails, and this led to a thrilling conclusion that I would never have guessed.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bestselling Author, Sheryl Browne, writes taut, twisty psychological thriller. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where she completed her MA in Creative Writing. Sheryl has also obtained a Certificate of Achievement in Forensic Science and – according to readers – she makes an excellent psychopath. Sheryl’s latest psychological thriller MY HUSBAND'S GIRLFRIEND comes to you from BOOKOUTURE. Her previous works include the DI Matthew Adams Crime Thriller series, along with contemporary fiction novels, The Rest of My Life and Learning to Love.

To find out more about Sheryl go to www.sherylbrowne.com
https://twitter.com/SherylBrowne

Monday, April 5, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Save My Daughter


DESCRIPTION:

As soon as we sat on the ride I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t hear the theme park music, the giggles of my two other children. I’d left my baby in someone else’s care. And I knew I’d made a mistake…

With her two beautiful children and newborn baby Ella, Lily’s life is full of love and laughter. She gave up her job to be a stay-at-home mother, and though she sometimes envies the freedom of best friend Hannah, Lily wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But Lily’s world implodes when Hannah disappears with Ella one day, and Lily fears from the text message she receives that Hannah doesn’t intend to come back:

You don’t deserve her.

It’s true that Lily has been keeping secrets about her marriage from Hannah, ones she thought only she and her husband knew. Suddenly Lily realises that there are things she doesn’t know about Hannah too – and that by keeping her husband’s secrets, she might pay the ultimate sacrifice.

A rollercoaster ride of emotions, Save My Daughter will break your heart. Fans of Jodi Picoult, Kate Hewitt and Diane Chamberlain will be swept away by Sam Vickery’s utterly gorgeous novel.

BUY LINKS:

MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   Save My Daughter
Author:  Sam Vickery
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   250
Date of Publication:  April 1, 2021 
My Rating:    4 Stars

Lily and Hannah are best friends - friends who have always told each other everything. That all changes when Hannah takes Lily's baby Ella. Why did Hannah kidnap Ella? What secrets have the two women been keeping from one another that would drive Hannah to such a desperate act?

When Hannah looks at her friend, she sees someone living an idyllic life - a woman with a husband, two school-age children and now a new baby. Hannah doesn't have any of those things. In fact, there are things that she wants in life that seem incredibly out of reach. In most kidnapping cases, the parents and the police are rather frenzied trying to locate the kidnapper in order to rescue the child. However, in this case, it is perfectly clear that Hannah took Ella. In fact, she tells Lily in a note that she does not even deserve baby Ella. 

Meanwhile, the story shifts to what is going on behind closed doors in Lily and husband's Jon's life. Difficult, life-changing things are happening, things that Lily kept from her best friend. While coping with their current situation, now they are desperately hoping to get Ella back safe and sound.

While the story is about locating baby Ella, it reaches far deeper. In fact, it touches on some significant issues that each woman faces. What is more is that the secrets they are each harboring just might prove to result in the collapse of the precious friendship that they had for years. This proved to be quite thought-provoking, leading me to wonder how things could have been so very different if trust and communication were stronger between Lily and Hannah. 

This tender story delivers in two effective ways. One is the first person perspective from both Hannah and Lily. Also, there is the past and then way the story is told. This all plays together to create a compelling read that culminated in an evocative conclusion. Save My Daughter is an incredibly sensitive story that was so captivating, so touching and so emotional that I truly connected with Hannah and Lily. 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sam Vickery is an English author who loves gritty, emotional stories that can make you sob. As a child, she was forever getting in trouble for being caught with her nose in a book, and these days are no different. She lives on the south coast of England with her husband, two children and a cat that thinks it's a dog.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Just My Luck


DESCRIPTION:

Be careful what you wish for...

After spending happy hours, parenting classes and barbeques together for the last 15 years, Lexi and Jake Greenwood have celebrated and shared almost everything with the Pearsons and the Heathcotes, including their lottery numbers. Then one night, the unthinkable happens. Someone has been telling lies – lies dark enough to burn bridges and tear the tight group of friends apart. When the Greenwoods win a stunning $23 million in the lottery with their group’s numbers shortly after their dramatic falling out, the Heathcotes and Pearsons believe they’re entitled to part of the prize... and the three couples will do anything to claim what is theirs.

Reader beware: the last chapter will change everything.

A compulsively readable portrait of the fragility of friendship, the corrosiveness of sudden wealth, and the dark side of good luck, Adele Parks’ latest domestic thriller will make you think twice about trying your hand at the lottery. 

BUY LINKS:
 
Title
:   Just My Luck
Author:  Adele Parks
Publisher:  MIRA
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   384
Date of Publication:   April 6, 2021
(first published April 20, 2020)
My Rating:   4 Stars

Six people. Three couples. The same six lottery numbers for fifteen years to no avail. However, the group had some issues so Lexi and Jake played the numbers on their own - and won - to the tune of nearly 18 million pounds. Two questions come at play? What broke the group apart and do Lexi and Jake owe any of their winnings to their former friends?

Quite naturally, the other four want part of the winnings. It seems only fair. They  had a lottery syndicate that they all once took very seriously. Just because they did not join in that past week should not have excluded them part of the pot. How far will Lexi and Jake - and the others - go when it comes to those millions?

What ensues in Just My Luck is a display on how people can change when going from an average life to a possibly elite life - fancier cars, houses, clothes. This fascinating book also shows how nasty some can become and how changeable people can be. However, this book goes even deeper - secrets, lies and betrayal are also at play. I was utterly shocked at some of the twists in this story, twists that went past the associated greed with regard to the lottery winnings, which drew to volatile conclusion in this shocking book.

Many thanks to MIRA and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:
Chapter 1

Saturday, April 20

I can’t face going straight home to Jake. I’m not ready to deal with this. I need to try to process it first. But how? Where do I start? I have no idea. The blankness in my mind terrifies me.

I always know what to do. I always have a solution, a way of tackling something, giving it a happy spin. I’m Lexi Greenwood, the woman everyone knows of as the fixer, the smiler—some might even slightly snidely call me a do-gooder. Lexi Greenwood, wife, mother, friend.

You think you know someone. But you don’t know anyone, not really. You never can.

I need a drink. I drive to our local. Sod it, I’ll leave the car at the pub and walk home, pick it up in the morning. I order a glass of red wine, a large one, and then I look for a seat tucked away in the corner where I can down my drink alone. It’s Easter weekend, and a rare hot one. The place is packed. As I thread my way through the heaving bar, a number of neighbors raise a glass, gesturing to me to join them; they ask after the kids and Jake. Everyone else in the pub seems celebratory, buoyant. I feel detached. Lost. That’s the thing about living in a small village—you recognize everyone. Sometimes that reassures me, sometimes it’s inconvenient. I politely and apologetically deflect their friendly overtures and continue in my search for a solitary spot. Saturday vibes are all around me, but I feel nothing other than stunned, stressed, isolated.

You think you know someone.

What does this mean for our group? Our frimily. Friends that are like family. What a joke. Blatantly, we’re not friends anymore. I’ve been trying to hide from the facts for some time, hoping there was a misunderstanding, an explanation; nothing can explain away this.

I told Jake I’d only be a short while, and I should text him to say I’ll be longer. I reach for my phone and realize in my haste to leave the house I haven’t brought it with me. Jake will be wondering where I am. I don’t care. I down my wine. The acidity hits my throat, a shock and a relief at once. Then I go to the bar to order a second.

The local pub is only a ten-minute walk away from our home, but by the time I attempt the walk back, the red wine has taken effect. Unfortunately, I am feeling the sort of drunk that nurtures paranoia and fury rather than a light head or heart. What can I do to right this wrong? I have to do something. I can’t carry on as normal, pretending I know nothing of it. Can I?

As I approach home, I see Jake at the window, peering out. I barely recognize him. He looks taut, tense. On spotting me, he runs to fling open the front door.

“Lexi, Lexi, quickly come in here,” he hiss-whispers, clearly agitated. “Where have you been? Why didn’t you take your phone? I’ve been calling you. I needed to get hold of you.”

What now? My first thoughts turn to our son. “Is it Logan? Has he hurt himself?” I ask anxiously. As I’m already teetering on the edge, my head quickly goes to a dark place. Split skulls, broken bones. A dash to the hospital isn’t unheard-of. Thirteen-year-old Logan has daredevil tendencies and the sort of mentality that thinks shimmying down a drainpipe is a reasonable way to exit his bedroom in order to go outside and kick a football about. My fifteen-year-old daughter, Emily, rarely causes me a moment’s concern.

“No, no, he’s fine. Both the kids are in their rooms. It’s… Look, come inside, I can’t tell you out here.” Jake is practically bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. I can’t read him. My head is too fuzzy with wine and full of rage and disgust. I resent Jake for causing more drama, although he has no idea what shit I’m dealing with. I’ve never seen him quite this way before. If I touched him, I might get an electric shock; he oozes a dangerous energy. I follow my husband into the house. He is hurrying, urging me to speed up. I slow down, deliberately obtuse. In the hallway he turns to me, takes a deep breath, runs his hands through his hair but won’t—can’t—meet my eyes. For a crazy moment I think he is about to confess to having an affair. “Okay, just tell me, did you buy a lottery ticket this week?” he asks.

“Yes.” I have bought a lottery ticket every week for the last fifteen years. Despite all the bother last week, I have stuck to my habit.

Jake takes in another deep breath, sucking all the oxygen from the hallway. “Okay, and did you—” He breaks off, finally drags his eyes to meet mine. I’m not sure what I see in his gaze, an almost painful longing, fear and panic. Yet at the same time there is hope there, too. “Did you pick the usual numbers?”

“Yes.”

His jaw is still set tight. “You have the ticket?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes, it’s pinned on the noticeboard in the kitchen. Why? What’s going on?”

“Fuck.” Jake lets out a breath that has the power of a storm. He falls back against the hall wall for a second, and then he rallies, grabs my hand and pulls me into the room that was designed to be a dining room but has ended up being a sort of study slash dumping ground. A place where the children sometimes do their homework, where I tackle paying the household bills, and where towering piles of ironing, punctured footballs and old trainers hide out. Jake sits down in front of the computer and starts to quickly open various tabs.

“I wasn’t sure that we even had a ticket, but when you were late back and the film I was watching had finished, I couldn’t resist checking. I don’t know why. Habit, I suppose. And look.”

“What?” I can’t quite work out what he’s on about. It might be the wine, or it might be because my head is still full of betrayal and deceit, but I can’t seem to climb into his moment. I turn to the screen. The lottery website. Brash and loud. A clash of bright colors and fonts.

The numbers glare at me from the computer—1, 8, 20, 29, 49, 58. Numbers I am so familiar with, yet they seem peculiar and unbelievable.

“I don’t understand. Is this a joke?”

“No, Lexi. No! It’s for real. We’ve only gone and won the bloody lottery!”

Excerpted from Just My Luck by Adele Parks, Copyright © 2021 by Adele Parks. Published by MIRA Books




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adele Parks is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels, including Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck, as well as I Invited Her In. Just My Luck is currently in development to be made into a movie. Her novels have sold 4 million copies in the UK alone, and her work has also been translated into thirty-one languages.


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