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Extract From One Step Closer To You

One Step Closer To You‘One Step Closer To You’ is the latest book by Alice Peterson and is one of my favourite books from 2014.

Here’s a little from the book to wet your appetite.

I have no idea if Ben is attracted to me in that way. I’ve noticed a definite closeness, a few jokes about shagging, and he’s determined to put me off this single-parent dating website, but he hasn’t actually asked me out on a date. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about our camping trip, replaying the two of us dancing, his hand on my back, both of us laughing and feeling so free. I can tell him anything, and equally he can talk to me about anything too, and neither one of us feels judged. But surely, by now, something would have happened if Ben and I were into one another? As Janey had said, we spent a whole week together and if Ben did feel something for me, then that would have been the time to show it.

Nat distracts my thoughts, asking if I came to the wedding with anyone.

‘Ben,’ I say, gesturing to him. I tell Nat we went on a beach holiday recently to Cornwall, with our children.

‘How long have you been seeing him?’ Nat asks, faint disappointment in his tone, or am I imagining it?

‘Oh, we’re not together.’

‘Right,’ he says, perking up, but looking mildly confused.

I turn to him. ‘Do you think men and woman can be just friends?’

‘No way, not if the bloke finds the woman really attractive, like When Harry Met Sally.’

‘So it’s possible if he thinks she’s unattractive?’

‘Yeah.’ He looks at me. ‘But you’re not ugly.’

‘Thanks, I think. So you don’t have a single friend that’s a woman?’

He has to ponder on this. ‘One. Beth, but she’s a bit funny looking.’

‘Funny looking?’

‘She’s got these . . .’ He places his hands behind his ears, wiggles them, ‘sticky-out ears. To be honest, I mainly hang out with the lads. My industry is pretty male-dominated. I couldn’t go on holiday with an attractive woman and lie next to her on the beach, see her in a bikini and rub sun-cream on her back and not, you know, want to do it.’

Ben didn’t blink twice at me in my spotty bikini, and he slapped the suncream on my back as if it were Polyfilla.

‘Nicely put,’ says the man sitting on my other side. He’s Paul’s brother. ‘Sorry, couldn’t help eavesdropping. I was really close to this girl, Annie, right, and we’d been friends through college until we blew it one night getting drunker than usual and ended up in bed.’

‘Ah yes, alcohol always has a way of becoming involved, agrees Nat, asking me again if I’m sure I don’t want a drink.

‘Did you regret it?’ I ask.

‘Bitterly. We lost that trust, that sense of ease. We wasted something really special for nothing but a stupid drunken roll in the sack.’

You see. Paul’s brother gets it. It’s too bad if others don’t.

‘I have lots of friends who are men,’ says a blonde-haired woman in her forties placed opposite me. ‘I get different things from both. I love my girly friends, but I also like a male perspective.’

‘Rubbish,’ dismisses the man sitting next to her. ‘Sorry, but there’s no such thing as friendship between men and women, there’s always an imbalance somewhere.’

Soon comments are flying across our end of the table, the debate heating up.

‘Men can’t be just friends. We need more. We’re only human.’

‘Of course they can.’

‘What if that male friend has a partner though, or a wife?’ says Paul’s brother.

‘Good point. If Ben were dating, I’d have to take a step back. We wouldn’t be able to play chess at midnight,’ I say, thinking of our evenings in Cornwall.

‘You play chess at midnight?’ asks Nat. ‘That is weird. Why not strip poker?’

I laugh.

‘I bet you if Ben started dating,’ says Nat, ‘you’d turn into a green-eyed monster.’

‘Keep your voice down,’ I mutter. ‘No. I’d be happy for him.’

‘Well then,’ concludes Nat, ‘if Ben isn’t into you, you can take comfort knowing he thinks you’re a bit funny looking.’

Paul comes down to our end of the table and asks if we’re all happy, before refilling wine glasses.

‘We’re talking about men and women and if they can be just friends,’ says Nat.

Paul nods.‘They can be.’

‘See.’ I nudge Nat.

‘As long as the man’s gay,’ Paul winks, ‘or the woman’s funny looking.

Extract from ONE STEP CLOSER TO YOU by Alice Peterson, published by Quercus, paperback £7.99

You can buy One Step Closer to You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

One Step Closer To You By Alice Peterson

One Step Closer To You‘One Step Closer To You’ is the latest book by Alice Peterson.

After Polly ends her relationship with the father of her young son, Louis, she is determined to move on. All she wants is to focus on her job, her friends and to be a good mum. No more looking over her shoulder. No more complications…

Then Polly meets Ben. Ben is guardian of his niece, Emily. They become close, with Polly teaching Ben how to plait Emily’s hair, and Ben playing football with Louis. Their friendship is unexpected. Polly’s never been happier. But when Louis’s dad reappears in their life, all Polly’s mistakes come back to haunt her and her resolve weakens when he swears he has changed. Will she give herself a second chance to love?

Once again Alice has written another charming story that pulls the reader in creating a genuine connection with the characters.

In this story, we follow the life of Polly, a reformed alcoholic who is trying to turn her life around with the aid of her family, friends and weekly meetings with her AA group. She is an enchanting lead character, that is impossible not to like and warm to. Determined to get back on the right road, her life revolves around her little boy Louis and her visually impaired brother Hugo, with these important people helping and urging her forward, they help her block out the bad times and enjoy the now.

Cleverly written, the story flows back and forth from the present to past tense, right from the moment where Polly had her first drink that spiralled her life out of control and she then meets Matthew, who like her also enjoys a drink and together they begin a very volatile and turbulent relationship. Matthew is controlling and manipulative and after every incident, promises Polly this is the last time, drunk in love and alcohol, she believes him every time costing her, her relationship with Hugo to suffer and it’s not only until Louis is born that she realises that she has a choice and doesn’t have to a victim and that’s when she finally takes control of her life.

The supporting characters in the story are also great. Living in her brothers shadow, Polly feels that she is lesser loved of the two, due to his illness but that doesn’t mean that she loves him less and together they have a fun and protective relationship where they look out for one another. Even though he has a disability, Hugo doesn’t let it get to him and leads an adventurous life a passion for sports and a successful radio career. The main love interest in the story is Ben, who Polly initially met at an AA meeting. He was a lovely character from the start. Being thrown into the role of parent after his sister suddenly died, he finds it difficult to adapt looking after Emily and Polly helps him with this new responsibility and together the four of them become their own little unit, going on trips and having fun. Matthew is also particularly good as the villain of the book, charming and good looking, he leads everyone to believe that he is the perfect gentleman, it’s only when they are alone that we see the true side of him.

The first book that I read by Alice Peterson was ‘By Your Side’, I loved it and ‘One Step Closer To You’ was just as good. Powerful and tender from the very beginning, it highlights the issues of alcoholism and domestic abuse and handles these subjects with sensitivity. Compelling from the very start, this book was almost impossible to put down, beautifully written with an unexpected twist, this book is most definitely worthy of its recent award of Best Romantic Read at the Romance Festival. I loved it.

You can pre-order One Step Closer to You from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 25th September 2014.

By My Side By Alice Peterson

By My Side‘By My Side’ is the latest book by Alice Peterson.

Cass Brooks loves her job, her boyfriend Sean, her life. Until, leaving home one morning, distracted and hungover, she steps into the path of a lorry. When she wakes up, she can’t walk. And suddenly all her hopes and dreams, the plans she had made with Sean, the future she thought she would have had now seem to be out of her reach. But then fate intervenes again and Cass meets Ticket, a loyal golden Labrador who will never leave her side. And on a flight to Colarado, she sits next to Charlie who believes he can show her a life full of possibilities, if only she will let him. But Cass wants her life back the way it was and Charlie knows this cannot be. Yet a future beckons all the same.

‘By My Side’ is the first book that I have read by Alice Peterson and what a beautifully written and enchanting story it was. Told from the perspective of Cass, we meet her on the day of the accident that changed her life. With a lust of life, she sees herself with a successful career in medicine and her Irish boyfriend, Sean by her side. But following her accident she finds herself in a wheelchair, without her independence and now living at home with her parents. But, Cass being the wonderfully strong independent young woman that she is, doesn’t wallow in self-pity for long and wants to reclaim her life and independence back, and with the aid of her new friend Ticket, Cass starts her new adventure and more importantly a new life.

This story has got to be one of the nicest stories that I have read this year. A enthralling story of courage, inspiration and love. I was in awe of Cass as she battled with new life, how she accepted her new found disability and took on each challenge with both hands. I thoroughly admired her and thought she was one of the most aspirational characters, I have had the joy of reading in recent times. Leaving her old life behind, she embraces new friendships and one of these friendships is with a young golden Labrador Ticket, who becomes her helper and most importantly her new best friend, he helps her adapt to her life and helps overcome some of the everyday tasks that we take for granted. With the unique connection and affection that they have for one another, we see that it is true what they say, that a dog is really a woman’s best friend. Other people that particularly stood out was Dom and Guy, who met Cass whilst in hospital and together they create a strong bond and a mutual understanding and Charlie, a man who Cass falls in love with and helps her to find her way in life. We join Cass as she adjusts to her life, trying not to blend into the background and not to let her disability hold her back with life and love.

Filled with hope, optimism and a beautiful strength of character, ‘By My Side’ is a remarkable story that will make you appreciate the simple things in life and how easy it is to take things for granted. The story also highlights, just how unprepared and how narrow-minded some people can be with disabilities and the story captures these scenes regularly with an element of humour that does make for light hearted reading but it also does hit hard, how simple days out can be a challenge. Captivating from the start, the story brings to light two amazing charities. Canine Partners and Back Up, that both help people with disabilities, so they can never feel left behind and to always have hope and a companion in life.

With an beautifully illustrated cover of a girl with her dog, this book is a story that will have you smiling and crying through the heartbreak, the pain and the determination, ‘By My Side’ is a poignant tale that I urge everyone to read.

You can pre-order By My Side from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops 18th July 2013.