Today on Hayley Reviews I welcome Rachel Dove whose latest novel The Flower Shop on Foxley Street was released yesterday. It can be downloaded Here I must admit I haven’t read Rachel’s work but I look forward to discovering her colourful world. Isn’t the cover gorgeous it makes me think of a holiday village and a vintage coffee shop…..anyway this won’t be the only time I mention Rachel on here as I will be reading and reviewing this. I must admit since I finished my last read I have just been addicted to Netflix anyway without further ado I give you Rachel Dove and an extract from this beauty…..
My writing career started for real when I won the Prima and Mills & Boon competition in 2015. I was amazed, and it set the path for me to write other books. I am currently writing my fifth book, and have 4 more planned out. I can’t write fast enough at the moment, and it’s pretty full on, but I love every minute.
I have read books and written stories since I was old enough to hold a pen, but in my early twenties I started to really research things and look into publishing and writing as a business. I set up a rejection and submissions file, bought some books, read anything and everything I could get my hands on and…nothing happened.
I entered a few competitions, submitted some pieces to magazines, and the only thing I really got published were readers letters, which produced a buzz and a bit of welcome cash, but I really wanted to write fiction.
Life got in the way, and before I knew it I was in my thirties, married with children. I had self published a novel, and had some short stories published with small independent publishing houses, but nothing else. Till I entered the Prima Competition.
After that, it was like a snowball effect, and I had other books accepted, short stories published in magazines, won further awards…
The competition win was amazing, and a real confidence boost. It’s still hard of course, and I still get many rejections (my file is now massive!) but I keep going, and I urge any writers out there to do the same, because it only takes one yes!
extract of The Flower Shop on Foxley Street.
Roger snipped a stem, thrusting it into the green oasis mount.
“Honey,” he said, flicking out a hip. “You are 30 this year. You have your own business, and you have talents. Stop waiting for people to get a grip of their lives, take charge of your own. Trust me. I waited years to come out to my family, lived a lonely life of lies, and when I came out, my mother laughed as though I was telling her the sky was blue!”
Lily looked across at her friend, who was arranging flowers in a clothing combo of floral shirt, cardigan, fitted skinny jeans and blue glittery brogues. He lived in the village with his husband James, who was a businessman and property developer, and their dog, a great sloppy Great Dane called Bruno. She couldn’t imagine him dulling his light to make others feel comfortable.
“It’s a bit different, Roger, I don’t have some big part of myself hidden, like you had to.”
“Don’t you?” he asked, pointing a length of Baby’s breath at her in accusation. “You have plans, my dear, things you want to do. I follow your Pinterest boards, I see your sketches.”
Lily darted a look at him. “Stalk much?”
“Yes, I do,” he said rather proudly, causing her to giggle.
The trill of the bell announced the arrival of a customer, and as Lily walked to the front shop floor area, she heard him calling after her.
“There you go, don’t ask who the bell tolls for, it tolls for you! Opportunity knocking!”
“Ssshh,” she batted her hand behind her as she walked away.
When she saw who it was, she blushed furiously.
“Sorry about that, good morning! Would you like the usual?”
“Good morning, yes please.” She smiled briefly at the man before her, before turning away to get to work on the bouquet he ordered twice a week. Monday and Friday morning, regular as clockwork.
“So,” the deep male voice said, “good weekend?”
Lily almost snipped off her finger instead of the stem of a gerbera daisy as she had flashbacks of her weekend.
“Er…not bad, a little boring really. You?”
The voice hesitated. “Er, same really. Dinner with friends on Saturday evening. I had a bit of work to get done, so I wouldn’t call it a weekend, really.”
Lily nodded, wrapping the blooms in tissue paper and cellophane. She took them over to the counter.
“Okay for you, before I ribbon them up?” She allowed herself then to look at him fully. He looked back at her momentarily, before looking at the bouquet with a nod.
“Perfect, thanks.” She smiled at him. He was dressed in his usual work gear, and with it being January, he had a beanie hat on. Dark brown tendrils of hair licked around the edges, and she knew from memory that under his hat was a crop of thick curly locks. Down from the hat, he had a beautiful pair of deep chocolate brown eyes, hooded with thick lashes the average girl would kill for. She noticed he looked tired, with a day or two of stubble on his chiselled chin. She forced herself to look away before she peeked a glance at his adorable lips. She could already feel her cheeks burning with heat.
She concentrated on wrapped the bouquet with ribbon, taking care not to curl her fingers instead whilst using her scissors with shaky hands.
“All done,” she said, relieved and she passed them over the counter. He was looking at her, not moving, and Lily frowned. “You okay?”
He started, reaching for the bouquet clumsily. His fingers brushed hers, and Lily felt the roughness of them against her own. She shivered a little, and from the look on his face, he saw it. Damn.
“Sorry,” he said, rubbing the back of his hand across his mouth, “half asleep today. How much?”
“£20 as normal, please,” she replied, looking intently at the bouquet in his hands, rather than at him. “You need coffee. There’s a little cafe next door, with some seating, it’s nice and quiet.”
He raised his eyebrows a little as he handed over the notes. “Really?” Something tugged at the side of his mouth, like a smile trying to escape.
“Yes, it’s nice. I love their caramel latte. Do you like coffee? Or tea? They have tea?”
“Do you mean now? I just, I have to go to work-“
“Oh no! I didn’t mean with me, oh god no, I just mean you could have a rest before work, wake up a bit.” She was panicking now, and she knew it. She had just accidentally kind of asked the man out! He looked at her open mouthed, as though he was struggling to think of something to say. No doubt trying to make a swift exit from the crazy florist. Damn, a regular customer she couldn’t afford to lose either.
She looked behind her frantically, to see Roger staring at her, a ridiculously large grin on his face. She motioned behind her back for him to come and rescue her, but he just shook his head as if to say nope, you dug this hole, you dig yourself out.
He spoke again, his deep voice cutting through the high pitched squeaking in her head. Here it comes, she thought. The embarrassing it’s not me, it’s you, crazy loony woman I have no wish to spend time with. She had to will her own eyes to stay open. She almost wished her parents were here. A good bicker would defuse the tension.
“I could do tomorrow, same time, I have a late start but I would like to chat with you, actually.”
Lily’s mouth would have dropped to the wood floor if her lower face wasn’t frozen in a terrified lock jaw grimace. She willed herself to speak. The first attempt came out as a whisper, so she cleared her throat and tried again. This time she sounded like Joe Pasquale, but she ran with it. “I, I don’t think-“
He looked straight at her probably seeing a slight sense of panic crossing her features as she fumbled her refusal. The look on his face was so confusing that she couldn’t finish her sentence.
“Go on,” Roger said into her ear, his body suddenly so close she could feel his cardigan buttons digging into her spine. “For once in your life, take a chance.” Lily was still staring, stuttering at the man before her, but Roger’s words stopped her dead.
“Yes, tomorrow’s great,” she said in a flourish of bravado.
“Lovely! She will see you then!” Roger stepped even further forward, giving her a sneaky poke in the back with his finger. She managed to smile at the customer, or at least that’s what she thought it was. She might have looked constipated, at best. He smiled and nodded.
“Great,” he said easily, as though he made coffee dates all the time (he probably did, to be fair – the man was sex on a stick) and giving her a little wave and a smile that melted her heart, he left. Turning at the door, he looked at her again, a deep look that nearly knocked the feet from beneath her. For a second she thought he was going to come back, change his mind, but he just looked at her as though he was asking her a question she didn’t know the answer to. She looked right back at him, wondering what he was thinking, and why she asked herself this question every time she saw him. He smiled again, a tiny twitch on his lips, and then he strode away. It seemed that no answers would come today.
Lily stood at the counter, frozen solid, his cash still clenched tight in her hand. Her face felt as though it was on fire, and her whole body tingled. Roger had gone in the back and came through with the finished wreath, heading to the van. He gave her a tap on the arm that threatened to topple her mannequin challenge pose off balance.
“Wow, girl, I should give you a pep talk every morning! That, my dear, took balls. Not tiny balls either!” He tittered at his own joke as he set off on his delivery.
I don’t know about you but I cannot wait to read this and Roger sounds like the kind of mate I need….if you are already reading or if it’s on your TBR, or you are one of these super fast readers and have finished do let me know your thoughts….