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The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew By Milly Johnson

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew‘The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew’ is the latest book by Milly Johnson.

Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras. But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there. Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone. But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?

When I was planning an early night, that quickly went out the window when I found myself in absorbed Milly’s book, which has been described as her best yet and I do believe that I wholeheartedly agree!

The story is seen from the perspective of Sophie Mayhew is the wife of John Mayhew, a charismatic man who is destined to be the next Prime Minister.

Sophie is a quiet and reserved woman, who the press regard as a bit of an ice maiden as she rarely shows emotions, but she lets her feelings show when it’s revealed that John has been having an affair. Instead of standing by her man, she flees to the small town that her boarding school was in.

With a new identity and life, Sophie now known as Pom begins to make new friends with warm-hearted and generous Tracy, her handsome vicar brother called Elliott and his adorable little boy called Luke.

It’s whilst Sophie is hidden away that she begins to question her life, unaware of the crisis at home as John and his team try to deflect the press from the drama.

As per Milly’s previous books, this is another heartwarming and funny story that will warm the cockles of the readers hearts. It’s an reflective and an insightful tale, that makes for reactive reading. Sophie is a kind and warm soul whilst all those around her, including John and her family are incredibly cold hearted and spiteful towards her and you really do feel sympathy towards her.

Witty, warm and filled with fantastic characters, ‘The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew’ is an inspiring one as we join a woman’s journey as she starts over in life and meets new friends along the way.

You can buy ‘The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

She Lies In Wait Book Tour – Extract

She Lies In WaitToday on the book tour for Gytha Lodge’s new book called ‘She Lies In Wait’, sit back and enjoy an extract from the chilling tale.

Prologue

She made her skittering, sliding way down the riverbank. Her trainers hit the flat ground at the lip of the water, and she wobbled but recovered.

‘Jessie!’

She heard her name, and felt an answering buzz of adrenalin. She paused, then kicked her way on again. Just her brother, not Dad. Away up the slope. Her brother wasn’t going to yell at her for wandering off.

It was quiet. Much quieter than up by the camping stove where Dad’s commands were unrelenting. Her ears were full of leaves rustling, and rushes of birdsong.

She left the shadow of the trees, the sun making fierce patterns on skin already hot from scrambling. She put a hand up over her eyes to block the glare from the water. She should have brought sunglasses, and thought about going back for them. But she didn’t want to risk being seen. Not when being seen meant being inspected for dirt and told to clean herself, lay the table, and put things away.

She moved into the shadows under the bank, her eyes dazzled. There were blue patterns everywhere she looked. A spreading beech tree was above her, and roots arced out of the soil like flattened croquet hoops. Her foot caught on one. She stumbled, her heart jolting as she thought she might fall into the water. The river was dirty in the shadows under the tree, ominous.

But she wasn’t really close enough to fall in, and she regained her balance.

In front of her was a scooped-out section of earth the shape of a hammock that made her want to nestle in it.

‘Jessie!’

Great. It was her dad this time, and closer by. He was using the kind of voice that wanted an answer. But in front of her was the cool earth, and a hiding place.

She stretched one foot down into the hollow, and then the other. She felt immediately cooler, and took a seat on the slightly crumbly earth. She imagined herself as an early vil- lager, sheltering in the woods while Vikings raided her home.

But it wasn’t as soft as she’d expected. Ridges of root pressed against her pelvis and back. She squirmed left and right, trying to find a comfortable spot.

Her shorts snagged, and she felt a jab in her leg.

She pushed a hand down to disentangle the cloth, and then felt the root crumble in her hand. She lifted it and saw not old wood, but flakes of brown, and the bleach-white shapes of freshly exposed bone.

She didn’t need her GP father to tell her she was holding a human finger.

Jonah was halfway up Blissford Hill when he felt the buzz of his phone in the zip pocket on the back of his Lycra. He was standing up on the pedals and slogging upwards. He considered ignoring it, and then had a vivid image of his mum in hospital. And following that, he had a slightly stomach-turning thought that it might be Michelle. Which was just as irrational as every other time he’d believed it in the last eight months, but he thought it anyway.

He braked with gritted teeth and stopped his grinding climb. He caught his shin on one of the pedals as he jumped down, and was savage by the time he’d rooted his phone out and seen DS Lightman’s extension flashing on the screen.

‘Ben?’ he said, and then moved the phone away from his mouth to mask his heavy breathing.

‘Sorry, chief.’ Lightman didn’t sound it. Never really sounded anything. Michelle had liked to call him Barbie. Exquisitely pretty and emotionless. A lot smarter than Barbie, though, Jonah knew. ‘Call from DCS Wilkinson. He wants you to post-pone your days off to investigate a possible homicide.’

Jonah let the DS wait in silence. He looked up at the tree- shadowed top of the hill. It was a slog away, but he wanted the slog. His legs were crying out for it. He squeezed the drop handles of his bike with his free hand and felt the sweat on his palm. He hadn’t spent enough time doing this recently.

‘Sir?’

‘Where?’ he asked, not bothering to hide his irritation.

‘Brinken Wood.’

There was another silence, but this one wasn’t deliberate. He felt knocked off balance.

‘Recent remains?’ he asked in the end, though he thought he knew the answer.

‘No. DCS says not,’ said the sergeant, who was too young to understand.

His day of cycling was over, but Jonah suddenly felt too old for it anyway. He couldn’t remember ever feeling old before.

‘Send a car to pick me up in Godshill. Bring the kitbag from behind my desk. And find someone to lend me a deodorant.’

‘Yes, sir,’ Lightman answered, his voice as level as ever.

Jonah slotted his phone back into the pocket of the tech- nical top. There was sweat already cooling on him and leaving him chilled. He ought to get cycling again. It was a few more miles to Godshill.

He stayed there, unmoving, for a full minute, then swung his leg off the Cannondale and started to walk it slowly up the hill.

Hanson was in such a hurry to climb out of the car that she caught the sleeve of her expensive new suit on a protruding piece in the door and pulled a thread. It gave her a slightly sick feeling. She hadn’t really been able to afford it in the first place. She’d bought three others in her first two weeks as a DC, having previously owned only jeans, tank tops and sweaters, and a few dresses for going out. Suits were bloody expensive, and she resented the money she could have been spending on her unreliable car. Or maybe on an actual social life, which she seemed to have forgotten about somewhere along the way.

She tried to smooth the plucked sleeve down while she made her way inside. She wondered if she could get her mum to take a look at it, if she managed to make it to her mum’s any time soon. A potential homicide might mean working through the weekend. Late nights and living off caffeine while they caught the killer. The thought made her smile.

She let herself into CID and saw Lightman’s head bent over his screen. She wondered how long he’d been here, and whether he did anything else with his life. Whether there was a Lightman wife and kids that he hadn’t yet mentioned. He somehow had the look of an unfaithful husband about him. Too pretty, and too closed off. Unless that was more her own recent experience warping her expectations.

Lightman caught sight of her and gave a small smile. ‘I got hold of the chief. He’s going to need picking up and taking to the crime scene.’

‘On it,’ Hanson answered immediately. ‘Where is he?’ ‘Godshill,’ he said. ‘He’s on his bike.’

Hanson nodded. She pretended she knew the place well,and that she wasn’t about to punch it into her satnav. Two weeks into the job and she basically knew the route from home to the station and the supermarket, and from there to the dockside, where they’d been looking at some potential fraud. She missed the certainty of zooming around Birmingham, where she’d grown up, and then worked as a constable for two years. Though she had to admit that the New Forest was a lot prettier.

‘You’ll need this,’ Lightman said, and lifted a dark-grey kitbag from the floor. ‘And despite the time constraints, I’d take him a coffee. He’s not going to be that happy at having his day off interrupted.’

‘OK. Just . . . a filter coffee? Not a latte or something?’

Lightman laughed. ‘God no. Have you not had one of his rants on coffee menus yet?’

‘No, but I’m sure it’ll be great.’ She put the kitbag on to her shoulder. ‘OK. Anything else? Do you know what it’s about yet?’

Lightman shook his head. ‘Local sergeant will hand over to the chief at the scene. You’ll both get a run-down, though if it’s not recent, there won’t be much so far.’

Hanson nodded, and tried not to smile. You shouldn’t smile at news of a murder, even if it had been ages ago. But the truth was, she was delighted.

Hanson was wound up like it was exam results day. She gabbled at Jonah about the kitbag and coffee, and then without pausing for breath asked about the remains. Jonah found it somewhere between sweet and irritating.

‘Ben said they might not be recent,’ she said.

‘I’d wait until forensics give an opinion,’ he replied, taking a long gulp of coffee. ‘Most people – including me – don’t have a scooby what age bones are.’

Having sweated and chilled, he was cold even in the suit he had tugged on in the public toilets at Godshill. Cold, and drifting around his own thoughts of thirty years ago. He had to interrupt her to ask her to turn the heater on. The Fiat veered while she turned the dial, and then steadied.

‘Sorry,’ she said.

‘I’m just grateful you’re driving,’ he said, with a slight smile. ‘The coffee was a good call, by the way. You’ve given me at least a couple of hours of not being in a really bad mood.’

‘Hmm. A couple of hours. So I’ve either got to find you a Starbucks before then, or get out of the way?’

‘Pretty much,’ Jonah agreed.

Brinken Wood was suddenly on them. There was a cluster of squad cars and uniforms in the shingle car park. He found it impossible not to remember this place as it had been back then. The car park had all been bark and mud, but it had been just as overrun by police. The haircuts different; the faces somehow the same.

Jonah levered himself out of the car once they’d pulled up, taking the coffee cup with him. He felt like he’d gone back in time. So many months had been spent here, searching endlessly.

He approached the sergeant. ‘DCI Sheens. This is DC Hanson.’

Hanson had been the same rank as the sergeant two weeks ago. But to train as a detective, you had to take what amounted to a demotion, and become a detective constable. Jonah remembered not being sure who was more important when it had happened to him, and wondered if Hanson felt the same.

There was sweat along the sergeant’s hairline. His eyes were over-wide and his smile brief and agitated. His police constable, a stocky twenty-something, seemed calmer.

Jonah addressed his question somewhere between the two of them: ‘Who found the remains?’

The sergeant answered. ‘A GP out camping with his family. Well, his daughter, but he called it in.’

‘How old’s the daughter?’

‘Nine,’ the constable said. ‘Seems fine, though. It’s the father who’s taking it hard.’

‘They’re still here?’

‘We’ve kept them at their campsite. It’s not within view of the remains.’

Jonah nodded, and let the sergeant lead the way, though he knew where he was going. It was where seven kids had bedded down thirty years ago, but only six of them had got up in the morning.

Dr Martin Miller was sitting apart from his family. The doc- tor’s wife was watching the boy play on an iPad. The girl was kicking up dust around the edge of the camp.

It was the mother Jonah approached.

‘DCI Sheens.’ He smiled at her. He’d had to learn how to smile when his mind was full of complicated, dark thoughts like crazed glass between him and the world. ‘Would you mind if I talk to your daughter for a few minutes?’

‘Jessie!’ It was a call from the father. His voice was high- pitched and irritable. ‘Stop kicking like that. You’re making a mess.’

The girl was halfway upset and halfway rebellious. She scuffed over to her mother and Jonah, sat down quickly, and looked up at him, her knees up near her chin.

The mother slid an arm round her in a brief hug. ‘You don’t mind talking to the police, do you, Jessie?’ she asked her daughter.

Jessie shook her head.

‘We don’t need to ask much,’ Jonah said, steadily. ‘Just a few details about what you found.’

‘Sure.’

‘She doesn’t know anything,’ her slightly older brother interrupted scathingly. The disdain of older siblings had always seemed uniquely intense to Jonah.

He glanced over at the boy, who was now watching them both a little sullenly. He thought about asking him to move away, but decided to let him be.

He crouched close to Jessie. ‘So, a few questions for you.’

The girl gave him another wary look, and then her gaze wandered away and she picked up a pebble, threw it off to the side, repeated it with another.

‘Jessie, for goodness’ sake!’ The father again. Much closer.

‘Stop throwing things, and look at the policeman when he’s talking to you. This is important.’

Jonah tried to smile up at the doctor. ‘It’s OK, don’t worry.’

‘Jessie!’

Jonah might as well not have spoken.

The girl gave her father a truculent look, and then did her best to look up at Jonah through her straight brown fringe. Jonah tried not to become irritated at the father’s interruptions, which had nothing to do with helping the police, he thought, and everything to do with control.

‘Are you an inspector?’ Jessie asked quietly.

Jonah grinned. ‘I am. Detective chief inspector, in fact.’ Jessie’s eyes were still a little wary. ‘So you’re in charge?’

‘Yes.’ She seemed happy enough with that, so he went on.

‘Could you tell me what you were doing when you found the bones?’

Jessie glanced at her father, and then said quietly, ‘Hiding.’ Jonah saw the mother grimace, but she didn’t try to deny it.

‘Hiding can be fun,’ he said. ‘That hollow under the tree.

That was already there? You didn’t have to dig it?’

Jessie shook her head. ‘I just got in and sat down. There was something poking me, so I pulled it out.’

Jonah nodded. ‘Naturally. And it came out easily?’

‘Yes. I thought – I thought it was a root, and then maybe a plant because I grabbed a handful. But then I realized it was a finger.’

‘Well done,’ he said, nodding. ‘Not everybody would have realized.’

Jessie nodded, gave a small smile, and stood up. Her mother pulled her into a brief hug.

‘I’d like them not to talk to their school friends about this for a few days,’ Jonah said to Mrs Miller, once she’d let go of her daughter.

‘It’s OK, they’re not seeing any for a few weeks. We thought we’d carry on the holiday, but somewhere else.’

Privately educated kids, he realized. They were already on holiday, a good month before the state schools broke up.

‘Good. It would be better if this wasn’t talked about just yet.’
‘Of course.’

He heard Dr Miller’s footsteps.

‘Are we done? It’s a beautiful day and I don’t think we have much to add.’

‘Yes, we’re all done. Thanks for your patience.’

As Jonah stood, the doctor was already giving his children orders to get packed up.

He hurried them over to the tent, and Jonah found himself watching until Mrs Miller rose and began to pick up a few half-eaten packs of raisins and a cup.

‘I’m sorry your holiday got interrupted,’ he said.

‘It’s fine,’ she said, with a brief wave of her hand, and glanced at her husband. ‘Martin’s just . . . It’s not great for him.’ This in a low voice. ‘This was supposed to be a holiday where he could forget . . . He’s been very unwell. They only gave him a fifty per cent chance of living past Christmas.’

Jonah nodded, wondering whether she was used to apolo- gizing for her husband. But he understood that she meant cancer; that those bones had been a little handful of mortality. He felt a trace of sympathy.

An hour and a half of excavation. Dozens of photographs. A tent set up and eight bags of carefully labelled bone fragments.

Everyone was getting hot and irritable. Jonah’s mouth was beginning to taste like bitter, hours-old coffee. His feet were fractious, impossible to keep still. And he had the kind of energy-sapping hunger that made it hard to focus.

‘Anything yet?’ Hanson asked, after wandering up to the car park and back a few times.

Excitement had turned into boredom, the one reliable constant in the emotional range of every detective.

‘I think it’ll be a while,’ Jonah said. ‘It’s an old corpse . . . time-consuming job.’

‘Is there anything we can be . . .?’

‘We can be here when they want to talk to us,’ he said with a half-smile.

Some twenty minutes later, Linda McCullough, the scene of crime officer, stepped carefully up out of the dip and approached him. He was glad it was McCullough. You needed someone obsessively careful on a site that would have only the barest traces of data left.

‘How goes it, Linda?’

‘We’re going to be bagging this up for some time.’ She lifted her mask and let it sit on the top of her white hood. Her weathered face was wet with sweat, as anyone’s would have been if they’d been wearing overalls in that weather. But McCullough seemed not to notice it. ‘But as initial feedback, it’s a pubescent female, in an advanced state of decay.’

‘How advanced?’

‘Rough estimate only, but more than ten years. Fewer than fifty.’

Thirty years, he thought. Thirty.

He found it hard, momentarily, to believe that so much time had passed. A feeling that he must be Rip van Winkle, and have slept through much of his life, ran through him.

Rip van Winkle must have felt this strange mixture of anger and guilt, too.

‘Linda!’

McCullough turned, shielding her eyes from the sun. Another white bio-suit was leaning out of the tent to call to her. ‘I’m uncovering other materials. Can I get your opinion?’

‘Sure.’

She replaced her mask and climbed carefully back to the site, disappearing into the tent.

‘So if it’s murder, it’s an old one,’ Hanson said, and Jonah was half blinded by the white of the paper as she flipped her notebook to write in it. She sounded disappointed. Unaware of the huge implications behind those numbers. ‘And a teenage girl.’

‘It’s thirty years old,’ he said. ‘And it’s Aurora Jackson.’

You can buy ‘She Lies In Wait’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Amelia Mandeville Writers Tips

Amelia MandevilleAmelia Mandeville is one half of the video blogging sisters, ‘The Mandeville Sisters’ with her sister Grace. They have a YouTube channel, where they explore their love for fashion, style and discussing disability and body positivity. ‘Every Colour Of You’ is Amelia’s debut novel.

Today Amelia shares her writing tips for aspiring authors.

The motivation and self believe. Definitely. Just keep writing and encouraging yourself because it’s hard to believe in yourself. I nearly gave up lots of times.

Read more about Amelia and her writing journey here.

From The Carry Row To Tokyo By Drew Cochrane

From The Carry Row To Toyko‘From the Carry Row to Tokyo’ is Drew Cochrane’s true story of living with sight loss, when he developed an illness called Leber’s Optic Atrophy, a hereditary disease that his brother Ian also suffered from.

Born in the 1940’s in a rural townland in Northern Ireland, Drew had an interesting childhood with a house of boisterous siblings there was rarely a dull moment for the family and in this book, he entertains us with witty and poignant stories of growing up to the more devastating parts, when he discovered that he was losing his sight.

Although, Drew admits that he suffered from depression with the condition, he didn’t allow it to take over his life and through joining various clubs and groups, went on to compete in different sports whether it was tandem cycling around Lough Neagh, Dublin, or fundraising for local charities as well as competing in VI golf games across the world. With the friendships and the facilities and initiatives made available through RNIB NI, Drew never gave up on his love for sport and socialising and never let his disability limit his life or his ambitions.

The book also features photographs and press clipping from Drew’s life, giving the reader an insight into his journey and the many accomplishments that he has achieved through the years.

Written with the help of Multimedia Heritage, this story is an inspirational and motional journey that is narrated with passion and commitment. Drew’s words speak loudly from the pages and creates such vivid imagery of the world that he now lives in, whether it’s on the golf course or with his family. He reflects on the moment of his depression and speaks honestly of his dark days, but through his drive for sport, he never give up. He became a legend in the local community for his dedication and perseverance and his determination to help others. A frank and honest story about resilience, injected with humour and warmth throughout, ‘From the Carry Row to Tokyo’ is an influential story about never giving up and grabbing life by the golf balls.

‘From The Carry Row To Tokyo’ costs £10.00 and will be available to buy at a number of outlets including The braid Arts Centre and Camerons of Ballymena, it can also be purchased by emailing Multimedia Heritage on info@mhireland.com

Nobody’s Wife By Laura Pearson

‘Nobody’s Wife‘Nobody’s Wife’ is the latest book by Laura Pearson.

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world. When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love. Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

At only 244 pages, this book is quite short and can easily be consumed in one sitting which is what I did. The story is seen through the perspective of the four main characters, after Michael and Emily get married. Michael is delighted to call Emily his wife, he’s besotted with her but for Emily, she feels that something is missing and when Josephine introduces her new boyfriend Jack to her sister and her husband, Emily finally figures out what is missing from her life.

As much as they try to fight it, both Emily and Jack are drawn to each other and even though they are torn at the pain that they are causing their partners, they are unable to stay away.

This book is quite the moral dilemma, obviously we all want people to have their happy ever afters but when it’s at the expense of others, then things more complicated and lines become blurred. Surprisingly, I found myself sympathising with all the characters, as they all battled with emotions and drama, but it was really Emily that I was drawn to, because she was not only hurting her sister, but also her best friend. The one person that she had become to rely on whilst growing up when their family fell apart and scenes between the pair of them made for emotional reading at times.

Wonderfully crafted and an observant insight into complexities of life and relationships, ‘Nobody’s Wife’ is a frank and honest recollection about love, obsession and betrayal.

You can buy ‘Nobody’s Wife’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.