2018, Blog Tour, Blogtober, New Author to me, novella, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Christmas at the Little Duck Pond Cafe By Rosie Green

Blurb: Fen has always hated being the centre of attention.

She loves her new job, working behind the scenes at the Little Duck Pond Cafe and baking the scrumptious cakes that have helped its reputation soar. But frankly, she’d rather scrub the public toilet floor with a toothbrush than have to come out and talk to the customers.

She’s always been happy to stay in the background as long as she has a good supply of books to escape into. That’s her kind of romance – the fictional sort where she can read about other people taking a chance on love, but she doesn’t have to risk her own heart.

But that was before Ethan Fox arrived in the village and turned her world upside down. Ethan is a leading light in the local amateur dramatics theatre company and Fen knows he’s way out of her league.

But when the popular village Christmas pantomime hits a crisis, Fen and Ethan find themselves thrown together. Can Fen overcome her shyness and find the courage to step on stage and save the day?

Review: I’ve been on a few cover reveals for Rosie Green and her books always look awesome but this is the first one I have actually read and it’s a gorgeous way to get into the festive spirit.

Fen and her pals are easy to love although I see a lot of me in Fen. In some ways she knows she’s capable but she just doesn’t have enough confidence in herself even when many people not just those who love her are telling her how amazing she actually is. What Fen sees in the mirror and what others see are completely different and I’ve totally been that person a lot of late I’m changing though. I also really loved her use of books and romance to explain her thoughts although I must admit I haven’t heard of many of them.

There are a few characters that will have you on your toes and one of them is leading man Ethan throughout I changed my thoughts on him a number of times.

I look forward to reading more from Rosie Green after being full of Christmas spirit and extremely hungry after spending some quality time with Fen. A strong female who doesn’t realise her worth. A great start to my festive reading although a little early.

Thank you once again to Rachel for including me on this festive treat

2018, Blog Tour, international women’s day, New Author to me, novella, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Belonging – A Trewton Royd Novella By Rhoda Baxter

Blurb: She’s grieving her lost love. He’s searching for his lost niece. Can attraction overcome family loyalty in this enemies to lovers romance?

Hiding away in a tiny Yorkshire village, Harriet is grieving for her lost love. His family won’t talk to her and she can’t move on from from his death. All this changes when his daughter, Niamh, turns up on her doorstep, needing a sympathetic ear.

Tim thinks Harriet broke up his sister’s marriage all those years ago. His sister’s enemies are his enemies. When his niece runs away to Harriet’s house, he knows he has to get her back before his sister finds out. But that means talking with Harriet.

As they work together to console Niamh and get her home safely, Tim and Harriet become increasingly attracted to each other.

But with attraction comes guilt.

Can they overcome their respective loyalties and give in to love?

Purchase Link:

The universal buy link for the book is: www.books2read.com/u/bzPAZq

If you want the direct UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Belonging-small-romance-Trewton-Novellas-ebook/dp/B07H4PQKXC

Belonging will be 99p until 5th October and the end of the blog tour.

Review: Firstly I’m sooo sorry that it’s taken me all day to get this sorted. I was in the midst of a Thriller, had babysitting duties and Sunday is my guaranteed me day, when I get to do all my other bits and bobs.

I don’t believe I’ve read anything from Rhoda before this but I truly loved this novella it was full of so much heart.

I know there’s a lot of people who feel that novellas aren’t long enough, well I can safely say she packs so much into Belonging. As the title states it is about belonging but there’s so much more to it we touch on grief, loneliness, families, lies and betrayal to name a few subjects.

This is a story that will stay with you long after the final sentence. I instantly liked Niamh and Tim the family bond they share as Niece and Uncle is heartwarming. Niamh is so young and she’s grieving the loss of her father, I can’t comprehend that pain. The pain at losing my grandparents in my early 30s still hits me like a thunderbolt from time to time so to be a teenager I can’t even begin to understand. What I have learnt is there is no handbook to grief we all do it differently and that’s ok.

There’s so much to Harriet and Mel and I won’t spoil their complex lives to you but in part I adored both fiesty ladies. I’m always in awe of strong women in books and you don’t get stronger than these two.

I love stories that focus on towns that have a real community feel. I adore being a Londoner but we just don’t have that same day to day interaction and I adored seeing Tim change in Yorkshire he mellowed in so many ways and the change in his character was paramount. This also made me think we really all do need to take more time out from the day to day grind. I have been shown that recently, the weather change had left me extremely under the weather I’m such an active person that I don’t do being unwell.

This story heavily focuses on grief and how we all deal with it differently…it was also heartwarming to see grief bring people together for the better. A short story that will leave you entertained, enlightened and reaching to make that call to a friend or love one who you haven’t spoken to in a while. I will definitely pick up another story from Rhoda Baxter but if you want a snapshot into her writing this is a great place to start. We all want to belong – but what are you doing for you?

Take time today even if it’s just five minutes do it your future self will thank you for it.

Be sure to catch the rest of the tour and as I mentioned earlier this novella is 99p until 5th October.

I would like to take the time to thank Rachel for including me in this tour and I’m sorry for the delay…

2018, Author Love, debut novel, Guest Post, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Author Guest Post: Eliza Scott speaks social media…

Today here at Hayley Reviews I’m pleased to have Eliza taking over for me. I was part of the blog tour for The Letter- Kitty’s story and was overjoyed when she agreed to guest for me. She’s talking about getting to grips with social media – something I love and also hate at times.

Cover Reveal

Blog Tour: The Letter – Kitty’s story

So without further ado….

When I first decided to take my writing seriously and to actually do something about it – i.e. think about getting published – I realised I was probably going to have to get my backside into gear as far as social media was concerned and build myself a platform. At that point, the only thing I knew about this on-line world was the snippets I’d overheard from my daughters’ conversations – I hadn’t been tempted by Facebook, which even my most technophobic friends had. You could say I was a little late to the party.

So, one afternoon, and with a determined look in her eyes, my eldest daughter sat me down and fired-up my laptop with threats to have me social-media savvy by the end of the day. I have to say I was a dreading it; I couldn’t imagine enjoying spending time tweeting about this, that and the other, or posting pictures on Instagram. And I was convinced I’d make a hash of everything! But, with assurances that I’d be absolutely fine, my daughter and I ploughed on and sure enough, by the end of the day I was signed up to more social media than you could shake a stick at! I even had my own blog – heaven only knew what I’d post on that!

I have to say that, being a bit of a chatter-box, I took to Twitter pretty quickly, and was happily tweeting away in no time.  And it was this platform that introduced me to friendliest, most supportive bunch of people I know: the book community. From book bloggers taking the time to post detailed reviews of books they’d read, authors promoting other authors’ work and readers tweeting about how much they loved a book, it was a real eye-opener. The kindness and generosity of spirit was heart-warming, especially after hearing so much about what my daughter referred to as ‘trolling’. This very definitely changed my opinion of Twitter.

For me, social media was a Narnia-like doorway to another world. One that introduced me to a whole host of fabulous new authors, such as Caroline Roberts, Jules Wake, Linn B Halton, Helen J Rolfe and Sam Tonge to name just a few (the full list is rather lengthy!). I had no idea that such great writers were either signed to digital first imprints of the big publishing houses or were successful indie authors. At the time I was a strictly physical-copy only reader and wouldn’t entertain a Kindle. I quickly changed my mind and bought one, and boy am I glad I did! Since getting my hands on one I’ve read some fantastic ebooks.

Twitter also introduced me to York’s Festival of Writing, run by the Writers’ Workshop. I booked myself a place on the course and came away inspired. Indeed, it was here that the first seeds of self-publishing were sown in my mind.

Once I’d got my manuscript finished – or once I’d convinced myself I had to stop tweaking it to within an inch of its life! – I submitted it to a couple of the imprint publishers (I decided on only two as I still felt compelled to self-publish) and received one rejection and no response from the other (a flicker of self-doubt made me wonder if my writing was so bad, it didn’t warrant a response!) This made me take a long, hard look at my manuscript, which at over 150,000 was a bit of a hefty brute, and I decided a serious pruning session was in order. This I did and managed to discard over 20,000 words. Phew! My next step – and here’s where the internet and good old Twitter come in again – was to find an editor and book cover designer. After a good sniff around, I decided I liked what freelance editor, Alison Williams, offered and sent my manuscript off to her.

As far as a book cover was concerned, I’d decided early on that it had to be professionally designed, and I had the very designer in mind: Berni Stevens, whose book covers are just delicious! I’m thrilled with the one she designed for my novel; it captures the essence of the story’s location perfectly – in fact, I think I fall a little bit more in love with it every time I look at it!

Next up was marketing! Again, I knew who I wanted for this: the fab Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources. First off, I enlisted her help with a cover reveal followed by a whirlwind of a blogtour – it took my feet a while to touch the ground after that, I can tell you! I’m eternally grateful to Rachel for her slick organisational skills and for helping to launch my novel into the marketplace and introducing my book to the generous book bloggers who offered an unknown author a spot on their blogs.

I owe Twitter a big ‘thank you’, for helping me find all of these awesome people!

So, you see, after being sniffy about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and co, I’m a fully-fledged convert, fan and user – though I’m still a little behind on some forums, but I’m doing my best to catch up!

My first novel, The Letter – Kitty’s Story, which wouldn’t have been published without my introduction to social media, is available on Amazon in digital form and pretty soon it will be available in paperback. If you fancy a read, the links are:

UK:  www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DMKKM89

US: www.amazon.com/dp/B07DMKKM89

You can also catch me on:

Twitter: @ElizaJScott1

Facebook: @elizajscottauthor

Instagram: @elizajscott

Blog: www.elizajscott.com

You can find me on Goodreads, too.

Please feel free to get in touch – I always love to hear from fellow readers, authors and bloggers. Oh, and before I go, if you read The Letter – Kitty’s Story and like it, I’d be so grateful if you could pop a little review on Amazon. Thank you so much.

Eliza xxx

Thank you Eliza for taking the time to talk to me. I am hoping to do a Q&A with Eliza soon so if you have any burning questions then please leave them below. I must admit I haven’t read this yet but it’s on that ever increasing pile.

2018, New Author to me, novella, Short Story, Uncategorized

Novella Review: The Last Good Day By Hannah Pearl

Blurb: celebrates life, love and the importance of friendship. WINNER of the Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with heat magazine.

‘A beautifully poignant tale of love, friendship and loss. I can’t wait to read whatever Hannah writes next!’ PAIGE TOON?

Belle knows she is going to die.

Her lifelong best friend Helen knows it too, which is why she decides to sneak Belle out of hospital and take her on one last adventure.

In a day filled with fun, laughter and tears, the pair face the prospect of saying goodbye, and raise the important question:

How would you want to spend your last good day?

Review: I have to start this review by saying Hannah was announced and at the Simon & Schuster Christmas party that I attended. Now if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will remember that, that evening was a nightmare for me. I had to work late and got lost so to put a long story short I never met Hannah. You can read the rest of that tale Here.

The Last Good Day – now I’m guessing you will like me look at the title and have some thoughts on the story. I can safely say as much as it is about what you’re thinking you will be taken on a gorgeous rollercoaster of emotions when devouring this sweet treat. A cup of tea or coffee and whatever your choice of treat is needed for this one.

I’m a huge fan of novellas and I always aim to read more of them and it doesn’t always happen. Having seen so many authors and publishers at Books and the City rave about this short story I knew I needed to devour it. I was hoping to have read this during my lunch break – but my work day turned a little chaotic so it became my evening treat and what a treat it was.

Belle and Hannah are best friends – they are so different yet so the same. Their connection is like that of sisters as well as the best of friends. Hannah is the sensible one yet she will do absolutely anything for Belle and Belle simply adores her friend. The day they share is full of love, memories, resentments in the fact the future means separation. I won’t spoil the details but I can honestly say you will be grinning from ear to ear one minute and sobbing the next.

Hannah Pearl has a way with words, she’s written a beautiful short story about love, loss, friendship and making sure you embrace every single day to the max, as you never know when your time is up.

This story will stay with you long after the final pages. I honestly cannot wait to read more from Hannah. I also loved the acknowledgements and the bit about her. Hannah keep writing- you’re an inspiration and you should be extremely proud of The Last Good Day.

2018, A thought? A question, Author Love, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Authors I just haven’t discovered yet….

In wanting to daily post I have also been trying to read more blogs and interact with more bloggers. In doing so I have found memes I can get on board with and topics that I hadn’t even thought of.

This subject that I am to talk about today is something I just hadn’t thought of. Even though these sort of conversations do happen between book bloggers on a regular basis without much thought.

Here are just a few of the authors that are widely adored yet I haven’t read a single thing from them.

  • Philippa Gregory
  • Lisa Jewell
  • John Green – I have been lent a book
  • Jay Asher – I have loved the Netflix show
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Penny Parkes – Although I have a few to start.

They are just a few that come to mind….if there is anything by any of these that’s a must feel free to get in touch. If you have a review of anything by any of these authors also feel free to link them below.

2018, Cover Reveal, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Cover Reveal: The Trailing Spouse By Jo Furniss

Today here at Hayley Reviews I am pleased to share with you another gorgeous cover reveal courtesy of Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. Sorry for the lack of updates this week it’s been a crazy one but I’m enjoying Rosie by Alan Titchmarsh which I hope to finish and review soon.

So without further ado I give you…

The Trailing Spouse

Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie.

But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide—and Amanda discovers the woman was pregnant and hiding a stash of drugs prescribed to Edward—she can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels?

Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why.

For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both will follow his trail of secrets into the darkness to find the truth.

Pre-order Links –

https://amzn.to/2GwaX9P (Amazon.co.uk)

https://amzn.to/2IC1jjv (Amazon.com)

Author Bio: After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or on her website, www.jofurniss.com.

Well this sure sounds like an intriguing read. Thank you once again to Rachel for including me in this reveal. Sorry for the late post it’s been quite a day for me today. So it’s an audiobook journey home.

2018, Blog Tour, New Author to me

Blog Tour: Tubing By K.A. McKeagney

Blurb: Polly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead end job on a free London paper… life as she knows it is dull. But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train. The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires. But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing , an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains. In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde. Seething with jealousy, she watches them together. But something isn’t right and a horrific turn of events make Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

Can she get out before it s too late?

Review: Firstly, I have to thank RedDoor books for letting me be part of this blog tour and for opening me up to another fantastic read. Anna and the team seem to know books that will truly make me think and this is just one of those. I wasn’t going to mention this but I saw a number of so so reviews for this debut. That never bothers me as I always like to make my own opinion, I can see why some people wouldn’t like it but the messages portrayed are strong and spine tingling. I believe I first saw this book mentioned on Twitter and I instantly thought wow that’s different.

From the off the reader will be aware that Polly is a very troubled young woman, as the novel starts with her taking five in the toilet. Which seems to be one of her go to places. I wasn’t prepared for how in depth this novel would be and to the places it would take me. I can see why people dislike Polly she’s hard to like at times, I felt like I was watching a horror film where you would be shouting at her you silly girl what are you doing.

Polly is feeling boring and unfulfilled in her life and when a handsome stranger propositions her on a tube, with her getting much more than she bargained for. Although it was wrong on so many levels she can’t get him or the encounter out of her head. She becomes borderline obsessed with finding him which takes her on a dangerous road. There are many twists before this novel ends and so many you wouldn’t have guessed. For me Polly’s back story reveals a lot about her state of mind and her lack of confidence and general self respect for herself.

I read one of the dramatic scenes where Polly realises she’s playing a dangerous game whilst I was on a train and I had to clamp my hand over my mouth so I didn’t scream.

As a woman it’s hard to not be sickened by the events of Tubing it will also change your tube experience in the future ew. But the messages about safety, social media and strangers are paramount a truly intriguing novel that will captivate you from the off more so out of pure terror and intrigue. There really is no such thing as a beautiful stranger….be wary.

K.A McKeagney sure does have a crazy imagination I would love to see where she goes next after devouring her debut in two days.

Tubing will take you on a weird and wonderful rollercoaster ride, you will be captivated and horrified by the events. A gripping psychological thriller with erotic themes that will make you think differently about the tube….

2018, Author Love, New Author to me, novella, Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Valentine’s Day at The Cafe at the end of the Pier By Helen Rolfe

Blurb: Searching for love? You’ll find it at The Café at the End of the Pier…

When Jo’s beloved grandparents ask for her help in running their little café at the end of the pier in Salthaven-on-Sea she jumps at the chance.

The café is a hub for many people: the single dad who brings his little boy in on a Saturday morning; the lady who sits alone and stares out to sea; the woman who pops in after her morning run.

Jo soon realises that each of her customers is looking for love – and she knows just the way to find it for them. She goes about setting each of them up on blind dates – each date is held in the café, with a special menu she has designed for the occasion.

But Jo has never found love herself. She always held her grandparents’ marriage up as her ideal and she hasn’t found anything close to that. But could it be that love is right under her nose…?

Review: What a truly gorgeous introduction to Helen Rolfe and her new series. I must admit I have one of Helen’s Christmas reads on my Kindle but I haven’t got around to it just yet sadly. Now this is the start of what I believe will be a beautiful series down by the sea at the pier. As it stands this instalment is also free so go and bag a gorgeous bargain here is Part one.

From the off I liked Jo, she sounded sad at the beginning but when she mentioned her grandparents I was instantly smiling. I miss my grandparents very much and this story made me feel close to them. My grandparents had been together since school and Jo’s grandparents have been together a long while. Their tale is romantic as well as of friendship and companionship which I believe Jo is longing for but the love she has for them is so strong. The tale starts with Jo leaving her so so life in Edinburgh to head back to Salthaven-on-Sea instantly her mood and demeanour changed – then it changed again when she was reunited with her grandparents. It was so lovely to see. I truly miss those days as a child I spent most Saturday’s at my Nan and Grandads and as an adult I made the time to go and see them. I’m so grateful for that time, losing them early into my 30s was heartbreaking but the memories are always there.

Jo needed her grandparents as much as they needed her. It was lovely to see her settle in so seamlessly.

I don’t want to say too much as I believe everyone who reads this should go in knowing very little but what I will say is what seems like a disaster turns into a beautiful ending to part one. I honestly cannot wait to carry on this series but I have a few commitments before I can treat myself to part two.

I have to share this quote as it’s very much a feeling I agree with. ‘The beach was the place where she most felt like herself, where she could think, and where she was most at home.’ On this gorgeous bank holiday Monday I urge you to download this beauty you have no excuse it’s a freebie. Go and discover how beautiful The Cafe at the end of the Pier is.

Blog Tour, Cover Reveal, New Author to me

Cover Reveal: Amy Cole has lost her mind by Elizabeth McGivern

Today I am pleased to share with you a cover reveal via Rachel’s Random Resources.

What a cover and that line has me intrigued to hear more about this one.

Blurb: Amy Cole is a stay-at-home mum and a woman on the edge.

After a very public breakdown and failed suicide attempt, Amy finds herself trying to make it through her everyday life as a high-functioning zombie.

Elle De Bruyn is a force of nature ready to shake Amy back to life whether she likes it or not.

After a fortuitous meeting, the two embark on a journey together which will change them both and help them find out exactly what they’re capable of when rock bottom is just the beginning.

Pre-order from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B4FW7TZ/ref=la_B07B4HV9B6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519837964&sr=1-1

Pre-order from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B4FW7TZ/ref=la_B07B4HV9B6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519837964&sr=1-1

Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis. To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on:


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mayhemandbeyond

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MayhemBeyond

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mayhemandbeyond/

Picture credited to Jess Lowe

Keep an eye out for this fabulous competition that Elizabeth will be running.

Blog Tour, debut novel, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Reading Between the Lines By Jo Merrett

Blurb: Read Between the Lines of this debut novel and savour shameless shades of sexy

Woking, Surrey – Ballsy reporter Kate Cleaver doesn’t wait for things to happen. A modern woman with a voracious sexual appetite she takes life – and men – by the balls – and makes things happen! Sassy Kate wants to leave cat shows and council meetings behind her and hit the glamour of national journalism – but not before she gets her hands one particular exclusive: the delicious but elusive Chief Reporter, Aidan Tindall.

Reading Between the Lines is a rollercoaster of sexual freedom and angst-ridden rejection, office flings plus desire and ambition and 2am gin soaked confessions.

Former Mirror features writer turned stay-at-home mum of two Jo Merrett’s first book takes her early days as a journalist and spins them into an erotic chick lit, where ambition and sex rule. Acting on an idea that had pole-danced around her head for a decade, 44-year-old Jo finally got creative after watching Fifty Shades at the cinema.

She said: “I was halfway through watching the first film and thought, ‘I can write erotic fiction, what am I waiting for? I started writing it that afternoon! Reading Between the Lines is a book every woman who is in or has been in her 20s can identify with. Kate’s ambitious and confident but isn’t immune to the hurdles life throws at her. You will laugh, cry and cringe – maybe all at the same time!”

Today here at Hayley Reviews I am sharing with you an extract from Between the Lines thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group….

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! You idiot, Kate.

I swing the car into a space, grab my bag, and run as fast as humanly possible in four-inch heels. I hate Mondays. Thank God that Boots is only downstairs from the office. I leg it to the make-up section, grab the red tube of Maybelline and take it to the till. How the hell have I managed to leave the house without mascara on?

After waking up yesterday morning with the mother of all hangovers, the result of spending Saturday night at a London cocktail bar, followed by a third session of very nice sex with Mark (the second was on Saturday morning, in case you were wondering), I’d gone to bed at 8pm last night and had a full eleven hours in bed, so I couldn’t blame lack of sleep for this colossal oversight.

In the two and a half years I’ve worked at the paper, I have never turned up without a full face of make-up. Not wearing mascara is the worst. My eyes are a decent blue and they’re quite a nice almond shape, but without mascara they’re nothing.

I’ll never forget asking my mum when I was sixteen if she thought I was pretty and she answered: “You’re not typically beautiful, but there’s something quite attractive about you when you’re made up.” And she’s absolutely right. No man has ever told me I’m beautiful in my whole life.

In my late teens, I spent the night with a lad I’d had a huge crush on for ages. As the sun came up, I was wearing just his half unbuttoned, oversized denim shirt. I asked him what he liked about me, to pay me a compliment, if you will. Such was my gauche inexperience around men.

After studying my face for a couple of seconds, then in panic looking me up and down, he said finally: “Um, your legs are nice. Long, like.”

So, I may not be a beauty, but with make-up I look pretty damn good, which is exactly why I need an emergency stop in the ladies before I even step foot in the newsroom. I didn’t forget because I’m tired. I forgot because I’m distracted and shitting myself. Painting my lashes, I notice my hand’s trembling and my heart’s beating a tattoo in my chest.

Breathe Kate, breathe.

After my little chat with Gemma on Friday night and two days of rather satisfying sex, I’ve decided to knock this Aidan obsession on the head one way or another by talking to him at lunchtime, and the notion is scaring me witless. But when I set my mind to something…

Lashes up to par, I step out of the loo and into the office the dowdy receptionist is already at her desk, watering her spider plant.

“Morning, Jenny,” I smile woodenly, and out of courtesy.

Boring cow.

About 19, she was one of those girls who dresses like her mother and looks down her nose at women like me: women who know what they want and will do anything to get it. I turn the corner to my desk, snatching up today’s Sun and head for the staff room. I need coffee.

“Morning Kate, those fêtes go alright?” Pete’s on my case nice and early, keep smiling.

“Yes, all done.” I say brightly, “We got a load of great pics and you’ll have copy before lunch.”

Pete runs a hand through his thinning hair and leans smugly back in his chair before continuing:

“Clive tells me you were a bit worse for wear Saturday afternoon. Threw up in the bushes round the back of Frederick Furnivall Primary School?”

“I did no such thing,” I deny indignantly, tossing my fringe out of my eyes. Bloody sneak.

Clive Reed has been chief photographer on the paper for the best part of thirty- five years and loves lording it over the younger members of staff, despite being one of the laziest people I know. Trust him to drop me in it. “I had a bit of a headache and felt a little dizzy so I nipped around the back of the beer tent to sit down in the shade for a few minutes,” I lie. “I think it was the heat.” “It was a beautiful weekend,” drones Pete, “I got a bit of golf in, and the wife and I drove down to Barton-on-Sea for a walk along the coast. Lovely views of the island from there…”

Nodding and feigning interest, I edge away a centimetre at a time. Pete’s phone rings and I take my chance to scoot off, dumping my bag on my desk en route to the small kitchenette.

I flick the kettle on and dig my ‘Shopping’s My Drug’ mug out from the pile of freshly washed crockery. Anna’s already there and she’s just made herself a cuppa, judging by the used teabag and dirty teaspoon sitting in a puddle on the work surface. I raise my eyebrow, pointedly eyeballing the mess but Anna doesn’t even notice, so I give up, flopping down on a grubby orange plastic chair. She grins at me, sipping her tea.

“How was Fête-gate?”

Queue an eye roll.

“Same shit, different day. I can’t believe I ever enjoyed it.” A year ago I was lapping it up, getting out in the local area, proudly introducing myself as the Chertsey and Weybridge reporter. Now I’m feeling thoroughly disillusioned. I just want something a bit more challenging out of the job.

Anna wanders back into the newsroom and I flick absent- mindedly through e Mail glancing at the headlines.

I’d felt rough as a butcher’s dog by the time I got to the third fête on Saturday afternoon. A night of drinking, lack of sleep and passionate sex, followed by brilliant 27°C sunshine and a eld full of screaming kids was more than I could handle. I’d needed to scoot into the bushes and throw up the iced latte that had been swimming around my stomach since late morning.

Three pints of water, a bacon sandwich and a nap later, I felt a hundred times better and headed into London for another night of partying with Gemma, Mark and some city friends.

We’d enjoyed a fabulous evening. After some great tapas at Salt Yard on Goodge Street, we headed to a trendy little basement bar, the London Cocktail Club. I hammered the margaritas all night before catching the last train home and fucking Mark until the sun came up.

Thoroughly spent, I slept the sleep of the dead. It was gone noon before I surfaced from bed. Even then it took two Alka Seltzer, a generous squeeze of milk thistle, a hot shower, a full English and a bag of mini Dime bars before I felt vaguely human. When I’d woken up, I had the bed to myself; Mark had clearly headed off home. He hadn’t drunk as much as me. Not judging by the rock hard erection he’d displayed so spectacularly when we went to bed, and the fact he’d climbed behind the wheel of his camper van to head down the M4 before I was even awake.

Spooning instant coffee into my mug and pouring hot water on top, I add a splash of cold water and leave the staff room.

He’s here.

Sitting with his back towards me, Aidan’s square shoulders hunch over his desk and stop me dead in my tracks. My stomach lurches. I feel sick as my pulse begins to race and adrenaline oods my body.

Considering I see him five days a week, I should be used to this by now, but every time is like the first. A crazy thrill rushes through my veins and I feel light-headed.

Today though, knowing what I’m going to do later, I feel like turning tail and running as fast as I can in the other direction. Instead, I force one foot in front of the other and concentrate on steadying my breathing.

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