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Annie Darling

True Love at the Lonely Hearts BookshopAnnie Darling lives in London in a tiny flat, which is bursting at the seams with teetering piles of books. Her two greatest passions in life are romance novels and Mr Mackenzie, her British Shorthair cat. ‘True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop’ is the second book in her ‘Lonely Hearts Bookshop’ series.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Hello! I’m Annie. Long time reader, fairly new writer of lighthearted romantic comedy. I live in London and I like bookshops, cats, long walks… (This is starting to sound like a dating profile!)

    I’ve always loved love stories, always wanted to write one, had so many false starts but then I ended up writing first draft of ‘The Little Bookshop Of Lonely Hearts’ in a frenzied six weeks and everything fell into place.

  2. Can you tell us about your new book ‘True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop’.
    It can be read as a standalone but it’s the second book in my ‘Lonely Hearts Bookshop’ series, set in a Bloomsbury bookshop, Happy Ever After, “a one stop shop for all your romantic fiction needs.” It’s the story of Verity Love, Happy Ever After’s manager, vicar’s daughter, middle one of five sisters, Pride & Prejudice obsessive and introvert. She absolutely does not want a relationship and neither does posh architect, Johnny. But to get their meddling, matchmaking friends to leave them alone, they join forces to do the summer season of weddings, birthdays and barbecues. But things don’t go quite according to plan.
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Jane Austen (of course,) Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper and JK Rowling. All the J’s and some very lively discussion!
  4. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    At the very beginning, when I have my idea and outline and I’m raring to go and anything seems possible and I’m going to write the best book ever. Alas, disillusionment soon sets in.
  5. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hamnett’s ‘Thin Man’ series. #relationshipgoals
  6. From books to films, what’s been your favourite adaptation?
    The BBC production of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I will accept no substitutes.
  7. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    I wish I’d had the courage and the self-belief to take the plunge and start writing much earlier.
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Oh gosh! Difficult one. Maybe ‘The Collected Mapp’ & Lucia novels by EF Benson – I’m sure you can get them in one volume so it’s not cheating. ‘Lace’ by Shirley Conran and ‘The Mitford Letters’.
  9. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Read! Read! Read! You can’t be a writer without being a reader first.
  10. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A great big pot of tea.
  11. And finally Annie do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m hard at work on the third book in the series, Nina’s story, ‘On The Shelf At The Lonely Hearts Bookshop’, out next spring.

    Thank you for having me your blog. xxx

Follow on Twitter Annie Darling for updates.

You can buy True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Perfect Prey Book Tour – Extract

Perfect PreyOn the book tour for Helen Fields’ gruesome new book, “Perfect Prey’, read an extract from the unsettling tale.

Tripp looked like he didn’t know which way to run.

‘In you come, Tripp,’ Callanach instructed. ‘And you should shut your door, Bunny. It’s late.’

Safely inside, Tripp was a shade of beetroot.

‘New neighbour then, sir? She seems very, um, enthusiastic.’ Tripp raised his eyebrows and seemed to be struggling to control a grin.

‘Was there something important, detective constable? Only I was hoping to get some sleep for the first time in several days.’

‘Of course, yes. Couldn’t send the files over the internet. No time to securely encode them. Here you go.’ Tripp opened a laptop, and clicked on a folder in which two items sat. As the first played, Callanach could hear the now familiar song that the band had been playing when Sim Thorburn had hit the floor. The footage was taken from a few rows in front of the victim, on a mobile phone whose owner was obviously taking a selfie of herself singing along. For a split second, in the background, a shadow passed across Sim’s face. As the shadow cleared the screen, Sim could be seen slightly out of focus, looking down towards his stomach, his face registering confusion. Then he lurched to one side, out of shot.
‘Is that all?’ Callanach asked. ‘It doesn’t tell us any more about the attacker.’

‘One more piece of footage,’ Tripp said. ‘Top right-hand corner of the screen.’

Tripp pressed play. More mobile footage, this time obviously designed to show the scale of the audience, mobile held high in the air, turning around in a three-sixty loop. After a few seconds, Tripp pressed pause and pointed.

‘There,’ he said. ‘Only in shot for a second, but it’s clearer than in the previous footage.’

Callanach looked more closely. Sim Thorburn was hidden from view, but he could see Merel and Niek De Vries. To the left of them, walking in profile, was an adult with dark brown hair flopping over their face. The attacker was wearing large, dark sunglasses. Tripp let the video play to show the person’s sudden change of direction away from the camera and into the crowd.

‘Male or female?’ Callanach asked.

‘Can’t be sure,’ Tripp replied, closing the lid of the laptop. ‘But not that tall, slim and therefore able to move about relatively unnoticed. Caucasian. Hair could be natural or dyed.

Might even be a wig. Clothes didn’t stand out to anyone, so no help there.’

‘Perfect camouflage,’ Callanach said, leaning back on the couch and closing his eyes.

‘Could it be someone from one of the homeless shelters, do you think?’ Tripp asked. ‘Sim would have come into contact with plenty of people suffering mental health problems. No one keeping tabs on them, no one to recognise them.’

Callanach shook his head.

‘I wish I believed that, Max,’ he said. ‘Because sooner or later the person you’re describing would get arrested for something else, have a breakdown and confess, get drunk and show someone the knife. This took planning. It needed care and consideration. More than that, it needed nerves of fucking steel. Can you imagine the psyche of a person who can walk through a crowd of thousands, take out a weapon, cut hard and deep and precisely, then not rush away? To walk on slowly through the crowd, certain you’ve done such a good job that you have the time to get out of there, whilst putting the knife out of sight, making sure you don’t emerge from the crowd covered in blood. This person knew how to cut. They may be a psychopath but they’re not mentally ill, not in the way we think of it. This is someone who feels nothing at all. No panic, no fear, no sense of danger. Nothing at all.’

‘How do we catch them then, sir, if they’re that good?’ Tripp asked.

‘You know what, Tripp? I don’t have a fucking clue.’

Fancy finding out what happens next? You can buy Perfect Prey from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Country Girl Book Tour – Extract

A Country Girl‘On the book tour for Nancy Carson’s new book called ‘A Country Girl’, sit back and enjoy an extract from the historical tale.

The sinking sun cast a long, animated shadow of Algie Stokes as he ambled that evening along the rutted road known as Moor Lane on his way to see Harriet Meese. To his right lay a rambling Georgian mansion, an island of prosperity set in a sea of stubble fields. The grand, symmetrical house seemed entirely at odds with the tile works, the slag heaps and the worked-out mines which it overlooked. No doubt it had existed long before its sooty neighbours had been dreamed of; a rural haven, set in bowers of peace and tranquillity. But no more. Yet it never occurred to Algie what the well-to-do occupants might think of the black, encroaching gloom of industry. He never noticed any of it, taking for granted these immovable, and probably eternal, man-made elements of the unromantic landscape.

The crimson glow from the sun at his back was augmenting the ruddiness of the red-brick terraced houses he was passing. He bid a polite good evening to a passer-by, and his thoughts returned to the golden sunshine of Marigold Bingham’s natural loveliness. Yet, strangely, he was finding that he could not ponder Marigold without Harriet Meese also trespassing unwanted into his thoughts. Mental comparison was therefore becoming inevitable. Maybe it was a guilty conscience playing tricks.

Harriet was twenty years old, the second of seven daughters belonging to Mary and Eli Meese. Eli was a respectable trader who described his business as ‘a drapery, mourning and mantles shop’, situated in Brierley Hill’s High Street, where the family also lived above the shop. Four of the seven daughters were sixteen or over – of marriageable age – but Harriet was blessed with the most beguiling figure of them all, wondrously endowed with feminine curves. She was slender and long-legged, her curves and bulges were in the appropriate places, and as delightful in proportion as Algie had ever had the pleasure to behold in or around Brierley Hill. However, to his eternal frustration he had never been privileged to know Harriet’s sublime body intimately. Nor was such a privilege likely as long as they remained unmarried. Chastity had been instilled into Harriet from an early age, both at home and at church. So, despite Algie’s most earnest endeavours, he had never so much as managed to unfasten one button of her blouse, nor lifted her skirt more than eight inches above her ankle without a vehement protest and an indignant thump. It was, of course, her figure which was the sole attraction, since her face was her least alluring feature.

After a twenty minute walk, Algie strolled up the entry that lay between Eli Meese’s drapery shop and his neighbour, and tapped on the door. Priscilla, Harriet’s older sister, a school teacher who was manifestly destined for eternal spinsterdom, answered it. Facially, she was unfortunate enough to resemble Harriet but, even more regrettably, not in figure. Her crooked lips stretched into a thin smile, yet her eyes, the most attractive feature in her face, creased into a welcoming warmth as she led him into the parlour.

You can buy A Country Girl from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Perfect Prey By Helen Fields

Perfect Prey‘Perfect Prey’ is the latest book by Helen Fields.

In the middle of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf. D.I. Ava Turner and D.I. Luc Callanach have no leads and no motive – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim. It’s only when they realise the words are being written before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

In the second book by in DI Callanach is back with a lot more gore and drama than the debut book.

Set against the gritty background of Edinburgh, DI Callanach and his colleague DI Turner are trying to find two killers, who are committing heinous and gruesome crimes, both battling for attention and constantly one step ahead of the police.

Seen from the perspective of Callanach, the same moody and charismatic French man who is struggling to settle in but has a strong team of support around him. Unfortunately the one person that he can really rely on is DI Turner, but she’s busy with her own case as well as a new relationship. As well as Callanach’s perspective, there are also narratives from the killers as well, which give the story a clever twist. As the story progressed and more characters and potential suspects are introduced, I found myself on my edge trying to guess the killer.

The story isn’t just about an old fashioned killing, there is also the inclusion of hacking scandals as well as chat forums, where the killer and his audience were able to chat freely. Helen also touches on the subject of the dark web, an area of the internet that is deeply hidden, but once it is discovered, it’s a dark and dangerous place to get out off.

The second book in the series is a dark and chilling story that was impossible to put down. Clever and fast paced, the story progressed with many twists and turns that really holds the readers attention. With the inclusion of a handsome detective, clever and twisted serial killers, as well as some of the most gruesome murders, ‘Perfect Prey’ is a cracker of a page turner crime book that is most definitely not for the faint hearted.

You can buy Perfect Prey from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Darkness Within Book Tour – Extract

The Darkness WithinOn the book tour for Lisa Stone’s gripping new thriller, ‘The Darkness Within’, enjoy an extract from chapter seven from the dark tale.

It was a little after 3 p.m. and as Jacob gazed out of the side window listening to his music he suddenly realized he was very hungry and craving meat, which was a first. Since meeting Eloise at university he’d become a vegetarian as she was, although he still ate fish, cheese and eggs. But right now, after all that healthy eating in the hospital, he was craving meat: a rump steak or a rack of ribs, rarely cooked red meat that he could sink his teeth into.

‘What’s for dinner, Mum?’ he asked, removing an earbud so he could hear her reply.

She turned to face him. ‘I’ve made a vegetarian cottage pie,’ she said, pleased he was regaining his appetite. This dish had become one of his favourites and she’d put time and effort into making it. ‘Eloise is coming as soon as she can dismiss her class.’ Eloise was a primary-school teacher at a school not far from where she lived with her parents – about an hour away.

‘Any chance of some meat?’ Jacob asked. ‘I really fancy some tonight.’

‘Well, yes, if that’s what you prefer,’ his mother said, surprised. ‘I’ve got some steak in the freezer.

I’ll take it out as soon as we get home.’

‘Count me in,’ his father said chummily, glancing at his son in the rear-view mirror. Neither of them were vegetarians except when Eloise joined them for a meal. Jacob knew that given a choice his father would much rather have meat than Quorn or soya beans any day. He threw him a conspiratorial wink in the mirror.

‘Oh Jesus!’ Jacob exclaimed as the rectory came into view. A large Welcome Home bunting was draped across the front of the house and bunches of balloons festooned the porch. ‘Did you have to?’

‘It was your mother’s idea,’ his father said, ignoring the blasphemy. They only used Jesus Christ’s name with reverence.

‘We can soon take it down,’ Elizabeth said, feeling a little hurt. She’d wanted everything to be perfect for his homecoming. ‘I thought you’d like it.’

‘Suit yourself,’ he said with a shrug.

You can buy The Darkness Within from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.