Posted in Blog Tour

My Travels With A Dead Man by Steve Searl **Excerpt** @rararesources

Happy weekend all!

I am loving this title! Do you ever judge a book by its title?

My Travels With a Dead Man

Jane Takako Wolfsheim learns she can alter time and space after meeting a charismatic stranger named Jorge Luis Borges.

Inextricably she falls for Borges. Soon, however Borges’ lies and emotional abuse, and nightmares about a demonic figure, “the man in black,” nearly drive Jane mad. After her parents are murdered, Jane flees with Borges. Both the ghost of haiku master, Basho, and the Daibutsu of Kamakura, a statue of Buddha that appears in her dreams, offer her cryptic advice. Unable to trust anyone, Jane must find the strength to save herself, her unborn child, and possibly the future of humanity.

Purchase Links

My Travels With a Dead Man

Author Bio –

Steve Searls retired from the practice of law in 2002 due to a rare chronic autoimmune disorder (Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Cell Associated Periodic Syndrome). He began writing poetry in 2001 and, using the pseudonym, Tara Birch, was the featured poet of Tryst Poetry Journal’s Premiere Issue. He’s also published numerous poems as Tara Birch in print and online, including the poetry chapbook, Carrots and Bleu Cheese Dip, in 2004.  Steve was also active as a blogger posting under the name, Steven D, at Daily Kos (2005-2017), Booman Tribune (2005-2017) and caucus99percent (2016–present). Steve’s published essays on Medium include “Clara’s Miracle,” about his wife’s cancer and resulting traumatic brain injury from chemotherapy, and “My Rape Story.” Raised in Colorado, he now lives with his adult son in Western NY.  My Travels With a Dead Man is his first novel.

Social Media Links –





Context: After Jane inexplicably falls in love with Borges they travel to Japan for a vacation. To fulfill a promise to her dead grandmother, Jane has convinced Borges to visit Kamakura to see the famous bronze statue of the Buddha, also known as the Daibutsu.

* * *

We were at the temple of the Great Buddha in Kamakura, and I felt hypnotized.  No, that’s not the right word, but how can I sum up in just one verb what I felt that day seeing the Daibutsu, that massive cast bronze statue of the Amida Buddha, above us on his stone dais?  

The sun was often absent. Rain clouds passed over every few minutes, threatening showers, but failed to deliver on their promises. Yet had a thunderstorm broken out, I wouldn’t have noticed. One would think the shadows, cast by those clouds, would have darkened the glow emanating from its cracked, green tarnished metal skin. Instead, they enhanced the feeling that a living–spirit?–lurked behind the two slits that represented the Great Buddha’s eyes. As I stood there in that plaza, rimmed by the surrounding hills and uncounted trees waving in the swirling breeze, those eyes pierced me to my core. A fearsome intelligence lay behind them that held me rapt by its gentle manner and calm omniscience.

Borges rambled on, lecturing me, as was his wont.  He described the many scenes in which the Daibutsu appeared in Ozu’s films. In addition, he couldn’t help speaking to me of the history of the Kamakura period, when the Emperor lost his power to a famous samurai warlord who established his capitol at the base of this small peninsula below modern day Yokohama.

My Borges loved to lecture, and most of the time I humored him. Displaying polite, if not obsequious, respect for men was drilled into me at an early age by my Japanese mother. But under the gaze of the Daibutsu, the Great Buddha, I could not endure his prattle.  Over the course of my life, my parents took me to see many famous statues and monuments, including Michelangelo’s David and Christ the Redeemer, which towers over Rio de Janeiro, but none ever affected me as deeply as the Great Buddha of Kamakura.  It was more alive than any living being I ever encountered. Its élan vital immersed me in its embrace. I was awestruck.

“Erected in 1255,” Borges droned on, “to promote the sect of Pure Land Buddhism and create a shrine to attract pilgrims and other devotees, at almost 45 feet in height, it is the second largest Buddha in all of Japan, and the largest bronze cast Buddha in the world outside of China.  A great tsunami destroyed the outer temple in the year–say, are you paying attention to me?” 

“Oh shut up!” I said.  “Just let me enjoy this.” At that moment, I only wished to stay by the Great Buddha forever and bask in its meditative gaze, entranced by the indescribable emotions it evoked.  Borges’ interruption broke the spell.  He walked away in a bad mood, sulking, refusing to speak to me for a good half-hour, though he would have said he left out of respect for my privacy. My Borges could be such an ass, but then, what man isn’t?

I sat on a bench near the Daibutsu while he stalked about, taking photographs with his digital camera.  At one point, a group of Japanese middle school girls, all decked out in their traditional apparel–white blouses, knee length navy blue skirts and red scarves or neckties (the one fashion accessory allowed them)–descended upon the plaza en masse.  They didn’t give the Daibutsu a second look, more interested in talking among themselves, while their teacher went off to purchase tickets for a tour of the Daibutsu’s hollow interior.  More restrained than American children of the same age, their conversations never rose above the level of high-pitched humming, like the sound of honey bees near a hive.   

That changed when a couple appeared with their three-year old toddler in tow. The father, a slender, classic-looking WASP, taller than Borges, carried the boy on his shoulders, while the mother, who appeared Japanese and stood a foot shorter than her husband, described the scene to him.  They spoke English with a Midwestern American accent. 

At once, the schoolgirls, like flies drawn to an open can of Coke, surrounded them, chatting and pointing at the child, who seemed to take their interest in him as his rightful due.  The mother spoke Japanese to them. After a while, she said something to the father. With a great sigh of relief, he raised the boy over his head and set him down among the mass of young girls. Delighted, they erupted in excited outbursts, passing the little boy among themselves as he whirled around and shouted with glee like a miniature dervish. They kept repeating over and over a single word while they giggled, placing hands over their mouths as they did so: “kawaii,” meaning “cute,” though the true definition’s far more nuanced.

The little boy cavorted about the square, surrounded by his admirers. The girls’ movements resembled a flock of birds twisting through the sky on a summer day.  As for the boy’s parents, the woman slumped against the man, who endured her weight like a true stoic.  She kept her eyes trained on her son, but the man looked at the Great Buddha, transfixed, the only other person there as enchanted with it as I.  

Suddenly, I noticed Borges’ absence, and for a moment, feared he deserted me. I almost went in search of him, until I noticed Borges weaving his way through the schoolgirls, his upraised hands holding two cups of macha, a tea flavored ice cream I cherished. He smiled as he approached, handing me one as a peace offering. We sat on the steps and ate our treats, watching the children.  When the teacher arrived with the tickets, the boy’s parents reclaimed him.  The father picked up his son, now much less energetic, and put him back on his shoulders.  The boy rested his head atop his father’s, using his chubby arms to reach around and grab the man’s neck.  With a little sigh, he closed his eyes.

Posted in Blog Tour

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery **Excerpt** @tlcbooktours @harlequinbooks

Happy Thursday afternoon all!

Excited to share with you today at Excerpt for this amazing book! I will be posting my review on August 9. I don’t know about you but it is books like this that are getting me through these crazy times!🐚

About the Book

[ ] Dance till dawn 

[ ] Go skydiving 

[ ] Wear a bikini in public 

[ ] Start living

Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever….

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content – until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy”, Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache, and regrettable tattoos.  

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Silver Pines was the largest retirement community in the Pacific Northwest. There were single-family homes, condos, a golf course, several clubhouses, three restaurants, a workout facility, two pools, tennis and pickleball courts, and a grocery store. Deeper into the multi-acre complex were the independent living apartments, assisted living apartments, memory care and rehab facilities, a skilled nursing home and an outpatient surgery center.

The community hosted weekly garage sales, movie nights and all kind of clubs. The senior center—housed in the largest of the clubhouses—was open to the public.

Unity had discovered it and Silver Pines when she’d first moved back, three years ago. She’d decided to take up knitting, and the senior center had offered a class. She’d enjoyed the company so much, she’d joined the local pickleball league and was a regular at various events. Now, with the exception of Ellen, all her friends were over the age of sixty-five.

She drove through quiet, well-maintained streets. The association took care of all front lawns—freeing the residents from worry. Unity smiled. Maybe Howard should tell his son about the work his lawn business could have here. Not that she was interested. Too many of her friends were trying to fix her up. They liked Unity and wanted to see her “happy.” When she tried to tell them it had been only three years and she was nowhere near over Stuart, they told her she shouldn’t wallow. As if she had a choice about the amount of grief in her life. She also tried explaining that she’d had one great marriage and didn’t need another one, but that didn’t work either. Only Ellen let her be.

Unity turned onto a side street, then another, before pulling in front of a small rambler. The house was two bedrooms and two baths—about twelve hundred square feet. Sadly, Betty had fallen the previous week and broken her hip and would be moving into an independent living apartment.

Betty’s soon-to-be former house, like all the other houses, was on a single level with no stairs. The path from the street to the dark blue front door had a gentle incline. There were no steps anywhere in the house. The doorways were wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Inside the finishes were upscale. There were several floor plans and this was one of Unity’s favorites.

Dagmar met her at the front door. “You’re here. Good. We can get started right away. I went and saw Betty yesterday and got a list of all the things she wants us to pack for her. The movers come in the morning and take care of the rest of it.”

Dagmar, a seventysomething former librarian, had the energy level of a brewing volcano. She wore her straight hair in a chin-length bob. The color varied, sometimes significantly. Currently her swinging, shiny hair was a deep auburn with a single purple stripe on her left side. Her clothes matched her personality—vibrant hues battled prints for attention. She was as likely to show up in a Hawaiian-print caftan as riding pants and a bullfighter’s bolero jacket.

Today she had on a calf-length wrap skirt done in a balloon animal print. Her twinset picked up the lime green of one of the balloons and seemed conservative enough until she turned around and Unity saw a sequined version of the Rolling Stones open mouth logo. As always, reading glasses perched on Dagmar’s head.

“Let’s start in the bedroom. All she wants us to pack up there are her unmentionables.” Dagmar grinned over her shoulder as she led the way through the cheerful living room to the short hallway. “She used those exact words. Unmentionables. What is this? The set of Little Women? I told her unless she had some fur lined G-strings, the movers weren’t going to care, but you know how Betty is.”

Unity was used to Dagmar’s whirlwind, take-charge attitude. The first time Unity had come to Silver Pines to take her knitting classes, Dagmar had spotted her immediately. Within ten minutes, she pretty much knew Unity’s life story. By the end of the fifty-minute lesson, she’d introduced Unity to everyone in the class and had invited Unity to a potluck and a pickleball game. They’d been friends ever since.

“I packed up her medications yesterday,” Dagmar told her, pointing to the bathroom. “I’m hiding them at my place until she’s out of rehab. You know that doctor of hers is going to mess with everything and it will take her weeks to get back on track. This way I have a stash so we can figure it out as we go.”

“Because self-medication is always the answer?” Unity asked wryly.

“At our age, it can be.” Dagmar pointed to the roll of packing paper on the bed. “You get going on her Swarovski collection while I pack up the girl stuff. That’s mostly what she’s worried about. Her glass animals and the pictures, of course.” Dagmar’s smile faded. “She won’t have room to hang them at her new apartment. I’ve been thinking that I should put them all in a photo album for her.”

Before Unity could say anything, Dagmar pointed to the paper. “Chop-chop. I have bridge this afternoon and I’m sure you have work you should be doing.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Unity didn’t take offense at the instruction—it was simply Dagmar’s way. She unrolled the paper, then she walked around the small house, collecting the crystal animals in a sturdy box.

Betty had them in her hutch, of course, but also on floating shelves in the living room and den. As Unity gathered crystal swans and frogs, dogs and birds, she looked around at various rooms. The kitchen was recently remodeled, with quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances. There was plenty of storage and a back deck with room for a table and chairs, along with a barbecue.

Have a lovely day! XOXO Berit🦋

Posted in Blog Tour

Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace by Julie Stock **Excerpt** @rararesources

Happy Sunday all!

Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! Excited to share an excerpt with you today of what looks like a great book!

Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace

It’s springtime at The Vineyard in Alsace, a new season and a new beginning

After being abandoned by her partner when she falls pregnant, Lottie Schell goes home to live on The Vineyard in Alsace, where she has started a new relationship with the estate’s winemaker, Thierry. Now about to give birth, Lottie’s determined to raise her child and to provide for them both on her own without having to depend on anyone else.

Thierry Bernard is still dealing with his grief and guilt following the death of his wife two years earlier, for which he blames himself. When he meets Lottie, the instant attraction he feels towards her gives him hope that he can move on from the tragedy of his past, as long as he can tell Lottie the truth of what happened.

When circumstances force Lottie and Thierry closer together, they both find it hard to compromise – she’s proudly independent and he’s fiercely protective – and they’re both wary about trusting someone new with their heart.

Can Lottie and Thierry take a chance on each other, move on from their pasts and start over?

Escape to The Vineyard in Alsace once again with this romantic read set in the heart of Alsace’s wine country.

Purchase Link – Amazon

Author Bio –

Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in 2015, after starting to write as an escape from the demands of her day job as a teacher. Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace is her ninth book, and the second in the Domaine des Montagnes series set on a vineyard.

Julie is now a full-time author, and loves every minute of her writing life. When not writing, she can be found reading, her favourite past-time, running, a new hobby, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, glass of wine in hand.

Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Social Media Links –






Extract 5 for Audio Killed the Bookmark

This extract comes towards the end of the second chapter when Lottie is chatting to her friend Ellie at the baby shower. She has managed to escape for a moment until her mum comes to find her. Then her close friend, Sylvie, who she has been staying with is taken ill.

‘How about you? Have you enjoyed the party?’

‘Sort of. It’s just that everyone keeps telling me they know best for me and the baby, and no-one seems to understand that it’s possible to raise a baby on your own.’

‘It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but you can do it. You’ll need to be organised, I suppose. At least you can return to your job at the nursery in the longer term, and I’m sure Fran will help out with babysitting.’

‘Thanks for being so honest with me. That’s what I think, too.’

‘What are you two doing all the way over here?’ Lottie’s mum appeared in front of them, wagging her finger dramatically.

‘We’re catching up and I needed a sit-down,’ said Lottie.

Her mum pulled up a chair and looked from one to the other. ‘How’s everything with you and Henri?’ she asked Ellie.

‘Fine, thanks, Madame Schell.’

‘Oh, do call me Christine, no need to be so formal. It’s been a wonderful party, Lottie, hasn’t it?’ She went straight on, without waiting for Lottie’s reply. ‘You’ve had so many presents. People have been so kind, and all those things will come in very handy once the baby’s born and you can’t get out as much. Your dad and I would be so happy to have you at home again, you know, and I could help you, make life easier for you.’

‘I know, Mum, but I’ve told you I want to stay here. My life is here now, what with my job at the nursery, and with Thierry living here, too.’

Her mum leaned towards Lottie, a worried look on her face. ‘I wish you’d reconsider. I don’t think you’ll be able to manage everything on your own, especially when the baby is first born. And have you thought about money? You won’t be able to go back to work straight away, and babies are expensive.’

Lottie was saved from having to answer when a cry rang out from the other side of the Salle. All three women turned and her mum rushed away to see what had happened. Lottie struggled to her feet and slowly made her way over to the gathering crowd.

‘Should we call an ambulance?’

At the sound of her mum’s panicked voice, Lottie nudged her way through the guests to find her with Fran on either side of a distinctly pale-looking Sylvie, who was sitting on a chair with her eyes closed. Lottie’s heart sank at the thought that something terrible might be wrong with Sylvie, who’d been so good to her. She looked around for Chlöe, knowing she would be frightened to see her grandma like this, and spotted her hiding under a table.

‘It’s okay, Chlöe. Your dad will be here soon and he’ll take your grandma to the hospital for a check-up, and then everything will be fine.’

Chlöe crawled out and Lottie put her arm round her, trying to soothe away the child’s fears as much as her own.

‘Didier’s on his way, Sylvie,’ Fran said. She put her mobile away and took hold of the older woman’s hand. ‘Everything’s going to be all right.’ She glanced up at Lottie, with fear in her eyes, and the only thing Lottie was sure of was that everything in her life was about to change.

Posted in Blog Tour

Pauper and Prince in Harlem by Delia C. Pitts **Excerpt** @rararesources

Hello book friends!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! My weekend was perfect filled with relaxing and reading!

Pauper and Prince in Harlem

A vulnerable kid. A brutal enemy. An addled ally. Blood runs cold on Harlem’s hottest summer night when Drive-by assassins shoot up a crowded playground, killing the teenaged friend of private eye SJ Rook. Only fourteen, the kid was smart, affectionate, and alive with potential. His sudden death strikes the cynical Rook through the heart. Was this boy the victim of a cruel accident? Or was he targeted by gang hit men in a ruthless display of power?

To find the killers, Rook must enlist the help of another teen, Whip, a mysterious runaway witness. Whip is a transgender boy whose life on the streets has drawn him into the realm of a violent mob kingpin. Damaged by his mother’s rejection, Whip doesn’t want to be found. Not by the cops or by community do-gooders. And certainly not by Rook, a resolute stranger with vengeance on his mind. Rook’s search for the elusive kid becomes a dangerous trek through the meanest corners of his neighborhood.

Racing from desolate homeless camps to urban swamps, from settlement houses to high-rise palaces ruled by greed and corruption, the determined Rook pursues his quarry. An unexpected twist in the detective’s relationship with his crime-fighting partner, Sabrina Ross, threatens to derail his mission. Noble tramps, vicious thugs, and a pint-sized trigger woman also complicate Rook’s efforts to protect Whip. When a mob prince and a hobo hold the boy’s life in the balance will Rook’s grit and imagination be enough to save Whip and bring the killers to justice?

Purchase Links:

UK –

US –

Author Bio – Delia C. Pitts is the author of the Ross Agency Mysteries, a contemporary private eye series including Lost and Found in Harlem, Practice the Jealous Arts, and Black and Blue in Harlem. She is a former university administrator and U.S. diplomat, who served in West Africa and Mexico. After working as a journalist, she earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. She has published more than sixty fan fiction titles under the pen name Blacktop. Pauper and Prince in Harlem is the fourth novel in the Ross Agency Mystery series. The fifth, Murder My Past, will be released in 2021. Learn more at her website,

Social Media Links – Website: Instagram: deliapitts50 Twitter: @blacktop1950

Giveaway to Win 5 x PB Copies of Pauper and Prince in Harlem (Open to USA Only)

*Terms and Conditions –Only USA entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Outnumbered and surrounded, Harlem private eye SJ Rook falls into a dangerous trap when he confronts a violent hoodlum in a homeless camp.

“Link stepped closer, his tobacco-drenched breath smearing my face. He was two inches shorter and fifty pounds lighter than me. Hard and straight like iron rebar. Dark eyes, flat as tarnished dimes, shimmered between narrowed lids. He ran two fingers over scarce black whiskers on his chin. Shoulder twitched; elbow jutted. The tip of a switchblade bit skin at my throat. “Give me a name, old man. If I like it, I might let you go with just a scratch. Or two.” He nudged the knife towards my Adam’s apple.


Link stroked the knife down my shirt placket, slipping the blade under the first button. “What kinda name is that?” He flicked and the button popped into the air. “Some kinda superhero street handle?” Sniggers tickled my ears from both sides.

“The name my father gave me.” The blond kid hooted at my claim, but I kept eyes on the chief. “Tell me what I want to know, and I’ll leave you in one piece. Link.”

“Bold.” The thin boy lowered his voice. “You awful bold for a trapped man with a crip leg.”

“Link. What’s that short for anyway? Chain Link? Missing Link?”

He sliced two more buttons from my shirt. The white disks scurried like roaches across the wooden floor. When Link nodded, the hoods behind me jammed my arms again. Pain darted from shoulders to groin. The shirtfront gaped, sweat streaking dark on my undershirt. Link flicked the knife again, the gash in the damp fabric left my skin exposed but intact.

He pressed the blade behind my left ear, drawing it toward my jaw. Spittle sprayed over my right cheek as Link’s stooge spoke: “Whatchu gonna do to him, Link? Like you done to that calico kitten last week?”

Fire threaded through my flesh as blood dribbled past my collarbone. Link chuckled. ” He don’t need two ears, do he? Any more than that cat did.”

A crooked shadow rushed past my right shoulder. ” Drop it, boy.” The words grated over a deep rumble. ” You break the peace of this camp again, you gonna pay a high price.”

Posted in Blog Tour

Empires Reckoning by Marian L Thorpe **Excerpt** @rararesources

Happy Wednesday all!

It is definitely starting to heat up around here! How is summer going in your neck of the woods? Got a little treat of an excerpt for you today, enjoy.

Empire’s Reckoning: Book I of Empire’s Reprise

How many secrets does your family have?

For 13 years, Sorley has taught music alongside the man he loves, war and betrayal nearly forgotten. But behind their calm and ordered life, there are hidden truths. When a young girl’s question demands an answer, does he break the most important oath he has ever sworn by lying – or tell the truth, risking the destruction of both his family and a fragile political alliance?

Empire’s Reckoning asks if love – of country, of an individual, of family – can be enough to leave behind the expectations of history and culture, and to chart a way to peace.

Purchase Link –

Author Bio –

Not content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy and the companion novella Oraiáphon, described as ‘historical fiction of another world’, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. Empire’s Reckoning is the first of a planned trilogy, Empire’s Reprise.

Social Media Links –


Sorley, the narrator of Empire’s Reckoning, is a musician (scáeli) and teacher, among other roles. He is preparing to travel north to consult with his equivalent at new school, but in this scene, he has seized an opportunity to speak to Tamm, who at eighteen is the oldest student, about a delicate, dangerous matter.

We spent the morning teaching, and after the meal at midday, Druise went to talk to the guard, while I returned to the plans I had been working on earlier. I’d mostly completed them, and until Cillian approved what I had given him, I didn’t have much more to do. I had done the accounts just a few days before. I had best go speak to Anndra, I thought, not that he needs me to. It gave me an excuse to go out into the sun and air.

I stopped to watch the game, the students happily chasing the ball around on what was usually our training ground for swordplay and archery. Gwenna wasn’t among them, I noticed; probably with Lena, preparing for travel. “Tamm,” I said, seeing the opportunity, “a word?”

“I suppose they won’t kill each other if I stop watching for a moment,” he said with a grin.

“I’m not so sure. You can watch while we talk.”

“Catriona will stop them if it gets too wild,” he said. Catriona was the next-oldest student, a redhead who spoke every language we taught fluently. She was a torpari girl, from central Linrathe, and more than once I had caught Lena watching her.

“Had Turlo not said he had been true to Arey all his life,” she’d said, “I would swear she was his.”

“She could be, I suppose,” I had replied. “He did travel through Linrathe on his way north to find the route to Casil, and Arey was dead by then.”

“We’ll never know,” she had said. Turlo, and his scout Galen with him, had simply disappeared a year after the Taiva. He’d been commanding the Ésparian troops on the Sterre, and had gone to look for weaknesses in the defences where the earthen dike met the Durrains. No one ever saw either of them again. Lena believed they had attempted to go east across the mountains, following the route she and Cillian had taken in exile: a decision almost certainly fatal, in autumn.

“Tamm,” I began, “last night at dinner, your views on the constraints on us as adults were thoughtful. May I ask if you have learned that equally from all of us, or perhaps in one certain way from me?”

Surprise — or fear? — flashed in his eyes. He looked around, but there was no one in hearing distance. He did not speak for some moments. I too had learned from texts and discussions in my years at the Ti’ach that my desire for men as my bedmates was neither unnatural nor universally scorned, but it had made me no less frightened to reveal my nature in Linrathe and Sorham. The Ti’acha had made little headway in changing opinions in this area, except among the scáeli’en, and Ruar.

“Perhaps,” he said finally. “An example set by you and the Captain, I believe.”

“Beyond what we have taught you about music?” He nodded. “I’m pleased we have given you guidance,” I said. “Tamm, I’ll speak a little more freely now, and from experience. You will need to be very careful in Linrathe and Sorham. Both beatings and blackmail are possible, and not infrequent.” His head came up.


“The beating, yes,” I said calmly. “The extortion was attempted, but I had been warned, and saw what was planned.”

“How can I know what — who — is safe?” he whispered.

“A difficult question. Easier for a musician; the scáeli’en are more accepting, and you’re more likely to find others of similar tastes among them. You’re a good enough musician to mix with them, and perhaps that is all you should do, until you are older, and more experienced.”

His eyes were turned towards the game, but I didn’t think he was seeing it. “Lord Sorley? Thank you.”

“I would have benefitted, had someone said this to me, and others I know, when we were young men,” I said. “I would save you what we went through, if I can.”

Posted in Blog Tour

Heart and the City by Cecilia Fyre **Excerpt** @rararesources

Happy Monday all!

Well our crazy world just got even crazier. I really have no words, but I do know I am very grateful for books that offer me an escape from reality.☮️

Heart and the City (Book 1 in the Love Medicine series

British doctor Lea Holm has come to New York to work in her chosen field of emergency medicine. She loves her new life in this exciting city and can’t wait to get started with her research project. The last thing she needs are distractions.

But then she meets famous actor Ricco Como in her building – a distraction if ever there was one. He’s gorgeous and sweet, and there’s an immediate connection between them. Lea tries to resist temptation, but when he comes to her for help dealing with his steadily worsening migraine she can’t turn away from his plight.

As Ricco’s health takes a turn for the worse, their lives become more and more entwined. But can their growing attraction withstand the strain of his ill health, and can he let Lea be more than just his doctor?

**This novella series contains detailed descriptions of long-term health conditions, cheating and a bereavement.**

The series is set in New York City and was written before COVID-19. It makes no reference to recent events.

Purchase Link –

Author Bio –

Cecilia Fyre is the pen name of a romance author trying out something new.

She likes sunny, crisp autumn days. Cups of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top. The roaring of the sea. Laughing until your face hurts. The silence when you curl up with a good book. 

Her stories are about people. Some of them are strange, some think they’re boring. They all have secrets, they’re all scared sometimes. Cecilia writes about life, about love. About how hard it is to do it right. Usually, there’s a happy ending, or at least there might be one, someday.

But life’s not all sunshine and roses, and that’s why Cecilia tells her stories.

In the real world, Cecilia lives in England.

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Giveaway – Win 2 x A Complete set of all 5 novellas in the Love Medicine series, in an ebook format (Open INT)

The five novellas are:

Book 1 – Heart and the City

Book 2 – Unexpected Truth

Book 3 – Been There Before

Book 4 – Wish The Pain Away

Book 5 – A Thousand Little Pieces

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



The shift seemed to have gone on forever. Lea put the clipboard on the front desk and stretched, a hand on her back. She winced as her sternum cracked.

Why was she so tired? She should be used to being on her feet for twelve hours. But today her lower back hurt, her feet ached and she just wanted to crawl into bed.

Her cell buzzed. The sound still startled her. She wasn’t used to having her phone during work. But now that Ricco was in her life, and his availability was unpredictable, she’d started carrying it during shifts.

This shift was as good as over, so Lea allowed herself to peek at the screen. It was a text message from Ricco, and her heart beat faster.

Hey baby girl, how’s work? U got 10 mins, can I call u? X

Lea frowned. In the last couple of weeks he’d started calling her baby girl, especially if he had bad news. Still, a message from him gave her butterflies. And it was unlikely that his news were migraine-related, or he would’ve called, no matter what she was doing.

She wrote back, Just finishing handover. Will call you in 15 mins. x

Lea took care not to let her mind wander while she gave the day shift instructions. Only when she was confident that she had delivered a good handover did she hurry into the junior doctor’s changing rooms.

Ricco answered on the first ring. “Morning, doc.”

“Morning,” she said. “You’re up early. It’s five am.”

“Couldn’t sleep, there’s too much to do.”

“Don’t give yourself another migraine over it,” she admonished.

“Good point.” He sighed. “Listen, babe. Some stuff’s come up. Travel show shit, someone fucked up and we gotta smooth things out before we can move ahead.”

This sounded ominous. Lea’s heart fell. “If it’s not convenient for me to come to Ottawa tomorrow, don’t worry about it,” she said, even though it was hard not to show her disappointment. “We’ll do it another time.”

There came another sigh. “I hate this, y’know,” he said. “I want you here so much. Finally show you the place.”

“Hey, they’re not gonna ban foreigners from visiting Canada anytime soon, are they?” she joked. “I’ll come next time you’ve got a few days to spare, don’t worry.”

“You’re the best,” he said in a quiet voice, sounding relieved.

“I know I am.” She had to make light, it wouldn’t help if he was upset. “Wouldn’t be much fun sitting in your house while you get drunk with suits.”

“Ha-ha.” His laugh was subdued, but at least it was a laugh.

“Listen, I’m really tired,” she said. “And I still have to drive home. Call me tonight?”

“Will do, babe. Drive safe, and get some real sleep, okay?”

“Hark who’s talking,” she sighed. “Have a good day, darling.”

“Speak later.”

“Bye.” Lea thumbed the phone off, disappointment bubbling inside her. She hadn’t wanted to make him feel bad, so she had kept a lid on it, but the thought of going to Ottawa had sustained her all week.

It had only been two weeks since the jazz club. A few days together without distraction was what they needed to see where things would be going from here. They both wanted things to work, but if they couldn’t spend any time together, that would be difficult.

But there was nothing to be done just now. Lea yawned, and changed into her street clothes. She had to get to bed, she was beat.

When she emerged from the changing room ten minutes later she noticed several of her colleagues staring at her. What was going on? Had she – her heart lurched – left the changing room without putting her jeans on? She looked down to check. Well, it wasn’t that, thank goodness. Kathy, her favorite nurse, beckoned her over to reception. A long, white box sat atop the counter.

“You got an admirer, Dr. Holm?” asked one of the day shift nurses and giggled.

“What do you mean?” Lea stared at her, then at the box, dread forming in her gut.

Kathy pointed at the box. “It’s addressed to you. Open it!”

Confused, Lea did so without thinking. When the lid came off she gasped, along with the nurses.

A dozen long-stemmed red roses nestled in white tulle paper, looking more expensive than any present Lea had ever gotten. Dazed, she picked up a small, gold-embossed card.

Sorry doc… x Before anyone could peek at it, Lea slipped it into her pocket.

“Who are they from?” The day nurse’s voice was hushed.

“No idea,” Lea lied. “No name on the card. Excuse me.” She snatched up the box, lid on akimbo, and hurried away without another word.

When she got to her car she bundled herself in and dumped the box onto the passenger seat. Then she sat there, out of breath from fleeing at high speed. After a minute she lifted the crumpled lid an inch. The red petals glinted through the gap. Lea snatched her hand away as if scalded.

That had been a real shock. Sure, Ricco was sweet and thoughtful, and he was sorry that they wouldn’t see each other this weekend. But why this grand gesture? They’d already talked on the phone, and he’d apologized. And why send the flowers to her workplace? Did he want everyone to know about the two of them? Maybe he did. They hadn’t discussed it. The possibility made her heart race.

Or was this another case of Ricco thinking he had to mollify her with an expensive gift? That she expected something like this?

Her phone buzzed. Lea flinched. It was another text from Ricco. U got them yet? They okay? Do u like them? Is it too much? X

Lea smiled. He was sweet, that silly doofus. And he seemed as much at sea with their thing as she was. She typed a reply. They’re quite something. My colleagues were impressed!

His response came within seconds. Too much, I knew it! Damn… I’m sorry?

Guilt churned in her gut. Sure, the roses were overkill, but he shouldn’t feel bad. Course not. I love them. Speak later, okay? x

Okay. I’ll call u. Sleep well! X

Shaking her head Lea put the phone away. It would take a while for him to believe that she didn’t need grand gestures. And she had to work on not freaking out about a gift. She glanced in the box again. The roses were exquisite.

Shame she had no vase for them, never mind a suitably grand place to put them on display.

Have a peaceful day and stay safe! XOXO Berit☮️

Posted in Blog Tour

Celeste Three Is Missing by Chris Calder **Excerpt** @rararesources

Happy Monday/Memorial Day all!

Today I’m excited to share with you this excerpt from what looks like a very intriguing book!✈️

Celeste Three Is Missing

The world’s first earth-orbit passenger plane, the sensational Celeste Three, takes off from its base in Arizona, also the only place where it is designed land. On a routine flight the craft disappears.

On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier. Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan.

Getting the craft down in total secrecy is key. And someone has to pay the huge costs involved.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US :

Amazon UK:

Author Bio –

After ten happy years of retirement in rural France, Chris Calder is back in England. He came late to writing novels, penning his first whilst incarcerated in a French hospital following cancer surgery. At the time he spoke little French. Unable to communicate effectively with the staff, he spent his time fleshing out his first novel. Five more have followed; light thrillers leavened with humour. Best of all, the cancer is now history.

Chris knows that readers of fiction expect to be diverted and entertained. He loves feedback and believes passionately that taking on board readers’ views improves what what he does. You can email him at Go on, he’d love to hear from you.

Social Media Links –




An extract from the book manuscript.

Context: A routine test flight of space plane Celeste Two, predecessor of Celeste Three.

“All done?” Test pilot Matthew Wallace glanced over his shoulder at his colleague, first officer Richard Palfrey, on a test flight of the prototype space plane Celeste Two. Palfrey had been carrying out the pre-descent checks.

“Uh-huh. Just gimme a sec.” He scanned his instrument display panel again. “Yep, all good. I’m telling you, this is one sweet aircraft.”

“So far, but this is only her third flight. Better than Celeste One. I like the extra power but you can’t make a judgment yet. How far to re-entry engine burn?”

“About three minutes. Time to cross-check with FCC.” He was referring to the Flight Control Centre at their base in Benson Flats, Arizona.

In the captain’s seat Wallace sat up suddenly. The instrument panel displays had just switched off. “What the hell…?”

Palfrey reacted immediately, flicking the switch to open the communication channel to the control centre. “FCC, Celeste. There’s a problem, all displays are out,” he said crisply.

In the flight control centre director Gus Mead had been relaxed, watching over the routine test flight when the call startled him. Did he hear right? His stomach knotted as he jabbed at the send button, his words sharp and clear.

“Celeste, FCC. Say again, please, we do not copy. Repeat, we do not copy.”

The reply came from the usually laconic captain Matt Wallace.

“Matt here, Gus. I say again, we have no telemetry. The screen is blank.” In the background the voice of Rich Palfrey could be heard swearing as he tried desperately to resuscitate the dead display.

Mead immediately turned to Robin Stevens, another of the test pilots who was on monitoring duty in the control room.

“Any suggestions, Robbie?”

Stevens looked horrified. “Blank display? Shit, I thought they’d fixed that. Right now Celeste’s on the primary glide path, too close to re-entry burn.”

“Oh, God,” Mead muttered. He took a deep breath and pressed the send button.

“We’re on it, Celeste. We got you on GPS, we can count you down to the burn. What have you tried?”

“Everything. Gus, we gotta have attitude info. The screen is blank.”

Mead was staring at one of the three monitors. He turned to Stevens. “Get on to Pickard, right now. I want options, fast.”

Stevens grabbed his intercom to call the systems and electronics expert as Mead pressed the send button again.

“Copy that, Celeste. We’re checking with Pickard.”

“Too late for that. Count us down, I’ll give it my best shot. We don’t want to go exploring space just now.”

Mead’s heart was pounding. He knew that the only alternative was an attempt at re-entry, with Wallace relying on his experience and skill to get the entry attitude exactly right. Chances were not good. His mouth went dry as he made the effort to stay calm.

“You are precisely one hundred fifteen seconds to engine burn, Matt. Keep trying, here we go.”

With the room now silent and all present watching, Mead started the countdown. He kept his eyes fixed on the monitors as the seconds drained away.

“…..fifteen, fourteen, thirteen…”

From Celeste, Wallace cut in. “See you guys later.”

“…five, four, three, two, one, ignition.”

The tense silence of the control centre was shattered by the familiar roar of the engine’s blast, confirming that the burn was working and for a few heart-stopping moments all seemed well. Four seconds later it ceased, abruptly. Instantly Mead reached out and stabbed at the intercom.

“Celeste? Come in, Celeste. FCC to Celeste, come in.” The director’s voice cracked, his anxiety increasing. “Come in, Celeste. Matt, come in, dammit.”

There was no response. With his staff watching in complete silence, Gus Mead’s face reflected the horror they felt. He sank into his chair and put his head in his hands.

Have a lovely day! XOXO Berit🌸

Posted in Blog Tour

Rage and Retribution by Lorraine Mace @rararesources. *Excerpt*

Happy Monday all!

Sometimes I wish I had more time in the day to read! So many books so little time! This looks like such a good book and I’m hoping to be able to squeeze it in at some point!🖤

Rage and Retribution

Can two wrongs ever make a right?

A man is found by the side of a canal, comatose and brutally attacked.

It quickly becomes clear that someone is abducting men and subjecting them to horrific acts of torture. After three days they’re released, fighting for their lives and refusing to speak.

A councillor is accused of fraud.

Montague Mason is an upstanding member of the community. That is until he’s publicly accused of stealing the youth centre’s funds – an accusation that threatens to rip through the very heart of the community and expose his best-kept secret. But how far would he go to protect himself?

Two cases. One deadly answer.

As the two cases collide, D.I. Paolo Sterling finds he has more questions than answers. And, when torture escalates to murder, he suddenly finds himself in a race against time to find the killer and put an end to the depravity – once and for all.

Purchase Links

UK –

US –

Author Bio – When not working on her D.I. Sterling Series, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions. A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service. She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of THE WRITER’S ABC CHECKLIST (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel VLAD THE INHALER – HERO IN THE MAKING, and NOTES FROM THE MARGIN, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.

Social Media Links –






The perpetrator of the attacks on men is tormenting one of his victims. This is from the account Nemesis keeps in an encrypted blog.

As the soiled water ran into the drain under the table, Jason screams turned to whimpers. When I was certain he was as clean as I could get him, I turned off the tap and dropped the hose next to it. Walking back to the table, I smacked Jason’s cheeks with my open hand. I’d need to put some alcohol on those wounds, but that was a job for tomorrow. A final gift before I released him.

“Let me go,” he whispered. “You’ve had your fun. Please, let me go.”

“Is that what your victims said to you? Did they beg? Did they promise to do whatever you asked, if only you let them go?”

Jason went still.

“Ah, you didn’t realise I know everything about your sordid secret life, did you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jason said. “You’ve got the wrong man. That’s what it is, you’ve made a mistake.”

I sighed again. So bloody predictable. They all said that on days one and two. By tomorrow, when it was time for him to go home, he’d have confessed to his crimes and would never be stupid enough to commit any more.

“You’ve had it easy so far. I’m going to leave you until this evening to think about why you’re here. When I come back again, you can look forward to my visits every hour on the hour until I get too tired to service you. Bye for now.”

Jason must have realised I meant what I’d said, as he cried out.

“Wait! Please. I’m so thirsty.”

“Would you like some water to drink?”

Jason’s body trembled. “Yes,” he whispered. “Please, if you take off the blindfold I promise not to look. If you’ll just –”

“Just what? Give you a drink? Sorry, no can do. You have to take your punishment like a man. See you in a few hours.”

“No!” Jason begged. “Please. I’ll die unless you give me something to drink.”

“No you won’t. I told you. You’ll be here for three days. Nothing to eat, nothing to drink, but lots and lots of sex. Isn’t that what you tell your victims? Don’t you tell them they are there to provide you with lots of sex? Now it’s your turn to find out what that feels like. Keep that thought in mind until I get back.”

Posted in Blog Tour

Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery @tlcbooktours @harlequinbooks *Excerpt*

Happy Monday!

I had an amazing weekend at an author event on the Queen Mary, only problem was I was not able to post everything I needed to, the Wi-Fi was very spotty. So I had more of a break then I was anticipating, simply because so many things would not load for me, but I am back!

About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author of California Girlscomes an all new original Blackberry Island novel told with Susan Mallery’s trademark humor and charm. Sisters by Choiceis a heartfelt tale of love, family and the friendships that see us through.

Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…

After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.

Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.

Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Chapter Two

While the Blackberry Island Inn restaurant offered break¬fast and lunch, it didn’t serve dinner…except on alternate Wednesdays when the doors were opened for a traditional fried chicken supper. Sophie had been told by the nice lady at the front desk, and two women who had come by to “take a look” at the warehouse, that it was a do-not-miss event.

After confirming that Amber and Heather could make it, Sophie had made reservations for three. The restaurant didn’t have a liquor license, so she’d swung by one of the local tasting rooms to pick up a bottle of chardonnay and returned to the inn in time to meet Heather and Amber in the main reception area.

Sophie saw Heather first. The twenty-year-old held the front door open for her mother. Sophie had heard about Amber’s car accident, but hadn’t expected her to be using a cane or walk-ing so slowly.

Other than that, Amber looked much as she always did. A little rumpled, with a disapproving expression. Her hair was a medium brown, nearly the same shade as Kristine’s, but without the pretty highlights. Heather was taller than all of them, with hazel eyes, instead of the brown the cousins shared. Sophie al¬ways figured Heather had inherited the color from her father—a rodeo cowboy who, according to Amber, had seduced her into a one-night stand that had left her pregnant and with a ruined life.

On second thought, maybe she should have only invited Heather to dinner.

The wishful thinking made her smile as she hurried forward to greet them.

“You’re back!” Heather hugged her close. “I’m so excited to see you and hear about the business. I can’t wait to see the ware¬house you rented. It’s so exciting.”

Amber’s hug was less enthusiastic. “I can’t believe how far the parking is from the front door. I should have made my doctor give me a handicapped sign so we could have parked closer.”

“Mom, I let you off at the front door, then went and parked.”

“Where I had to stand by myself, waiting for you.” Amber rolled her eyes.

“You’re here now,” Sophie said, touching Amber’s arm, knowing the best way to handle her was to defuse the situation as quickly as possible. “Thanks for joining me for dinner. Shall we go get our seats?”

Amber set a snail’s pace that made Sophie instantly antsy. She distracted herself by linking arms with Heather.

“How’s school? Do you still have forty-seven jobs?”

“I took my last final yesterday. I should be able to see my grades anytime now. I only have three jobs.”

“You’re such a hard worker,” Sophie said. “You’ve been work¬ing since you were what, twelve? You must have a lot of money saved. Good for you.”

Heather looked at her mother then away. Sophie felt an in¬stant uptick in the tension between mother and daughter and wondered how she’d managed to step in it during the first three minutes of the conversation.

“The warehouse is huge,” she said, hoping to change the topic to something more neutral. Normally, she wasn’t bothered by the emotions of those around her but lately she was more sen-sitive to what everyone was feeling and that was a serious drag.

“It’s nearly double the square footage of what I had before. There’s less office space, but that’s okay. I don’t need that many employees and if necessary I guess we could easily frame in a few offices. I’ll have to see.”

“Because you’re too successful?” Amber asked, her tone more annoyed than playful. “Poor Sophie, overwhelmed by how glo¬rious it all is.”

“Mom! She had to move because her business burned down,” Heather said. “We’re glad she’s back but it’s not as if she moved by choice.”

“I’m okay,” Sophie said brightly. “Or I will be. It is a little hard, dealing with everything. A lot of work.”

They reached the restaurant and were quickly shown to a table with a view of the water. A sailboat caught the wind as it headed toward the setting sun on the horizon. The hostess handed them a slim piece of paper.

“The menu is fairly simple,” she said, waving at Heather. “You can order two, three or four pieces of chicken, along with two sides each. There’s a choice of cobbler for dessert. Your server will be by shortly to take your order and open the wine.” She smiled. “Heather, iced tea for you?”

“Just water’s fine, Molly.”

“A friend of yours?” Sophie asked, thinking they looked to be about the same age.

“I waitress here in the morning. They’re always busy and the tips are great.”

Sophie wrinkled her nose. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you worked here. I could have picked a different restaurant. You must be tired of their food.”

“I know I am,” Amber said with a sigh. “The same thing, every morning for breakfast.”

Heather visibly stiffened. “I didn’t know you felt that way, Mom. I always get the special, whatever it is. I’ll stop bringing you breakfast after my shift.”

“There’s no need to do that,” Amber told her. “I can make do.”

Heather’s expression was unreadable. She turned to Sophie. “Believe me, the chicken dinner is a real treat. I’ve only had it once before and it was delicious.”

“When did you have dinner here?” Amber asked sharply. “I didn’t know that. I never get to go anywhere.”

“You’re here now,” Sophie said quickly as she waved the menu. “Yummy. All the sides look delicious.”

“I can’t believe they only have cobbler for dessert.” Amber sighed. “I wanted pie.”

They were rescued by the server’s appearance. She opened the wine and poured two glasses, then brought water for Heather and biscuits for the table.

Posted in Blog Tour

A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K. Smith @nicolaksmith @rararesources #excerpt

Happy Saturday from a sunny Southern California!

One of the best parts about being a book blogger is you have access to so many amazing books and are introduced to so many amazing new authors. The problem is you don’t always have the time to get to them all. Here is a book that I would love to read I just unfortunately don’t have the time to, but I’m excited to share it with you because it sure looks great!

A Degree of Uncertainty

A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…

Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto — and many residents and students are relying on him.

But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.

As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least the need to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.

There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…

Purchase Links

UK –

US –

Author Bio – Nicola K Smith is a freelance journalist contributing to a number of titles including the The Times,,, BBC Countryfile and Sainsbury’s Magazine. She lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, a town which inspired A Degree of Uncertainty, although it is set in the fictional Cornish town of Poltowan.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @NicolaKSmith

Instagram: Nicolaksmith740

Facbook: @NicolaKSmith74

Giveaway to Win 10 x A Degree of Uncertainty (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



(Extract from Chapter 18)

This extract gives an insight into the stagnant state of Harry and Sylvia’s marriage, shortly after they agree to put the house on the market.

Sylvia watched from the upstairs window as Harry banged in the For Sale sign at the end of the drive. He hammered it quickly and hard, throwing his considerable muscle behind the lump hammer to drive it into the earth. He finished with an almost frenzied display of battering that took her by surprise.

He stood back for a moment to look at it, kicking halfheartedly at the bottom of the post after raining down the final blow. It stood fast. He stared at it for a moment before starting back towards the house.

Sylvia turned away. Out at the back, just over the hedge, a flurry of activity had started as people unloaded three transit vans packed with large black boxes and generators. They ambled slowly to and from the marquee, which seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere the day before.

The weather looked promising. It was a bright February day and there was a hint of warmth in the mid-morning sunshine that flooded through the bedroom window. Sylvia closed her eyes, letting it bathe her face.

She could hear Harry in the kitchen downstairs, opening and closing drawers and cupboards and talking in the gruff voice he reserved solely for Sting. She listened.

‘Sylvia?’ His voice floated up the stairs, as she knew it would.

‘Sylvia?’ She heard his heavy tread, his voice growing clearer.

She placed both hands on the windowsill, examining her thin fingers, the age spots starting to take hold on her skin. His feet retreated back down the stairs and she imagined him standing ponderously in the hallway, Sting purring affectionately alongside.

Slowly she roused herself, opening her eyes once more to the bright light and rejoining the present. ‘I’m coming,’ she called with some effort, but her voice cracked as she did so, fading to nothing.

Harry’s voice rose from the back garden and she looked out to see him striding purposefully towards the field alongside a young guy who stood even taller than him. The younger man’s arm was thrown loosely around Harry’s shoulders, almost protectively. They appeared to be sharing a joke as they disappeared through the gate in the hedge.

She lingered by the bedroom window and watched the activity unfold before her. The cars coming and going, unloading more gear; young people chatting and laughing, embracing, Harry directing things from the middle of the field, stopping to talk to people as he went. She had always admired that about him; his social ease, his ability quickly to find common ground with people, and the way they seemed to gravitate towards him, to find some sort of comfort in his presence.

Sylvia had never been at ease among people. She had always experienced anxiety in social situations, trying too hard or too little, and almost always resorting to silence, choosing shut- down mode as the safest way to navigate gatherings. Since she’d been with Harry, she’d gained confidence. She could play second fiddle while he took the lead, and she felt it suited her, allowing her to find her groove without having to endure the spotlight. There were far fewer expectations of her when she was with Harry. People expected him to perform, to hold court, to lead the way. It meant the demands on her were few.

She watched him walking back to the house alone now, before the familiar sound of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ stopped him in his tracks. He pulled his mobile from his pocket and paused, bending to replace a divot as he spoke.

It was probably her, thought Sylvia, shoulders sagging. Harry turned his back on the house, his free hand in his pocket, toeing the grass while he spoke. Sylvia had heard from Nell that they’d moved into an apartment on the river. She had seen it on Facebook and agonised over telling Sylvia, eventually letting it slip while they were walking one day. Sylvia had given little away. In truth, it had simply failed to penetrate her numb state and she had placed the information as if in a mental pending drawer, to address when she felt able. She had not yet felt able.

When Harry finished the call, continuing his walk towards the house, he caught sight of Sylvia standing at the window. He didn’t break stride or raise his hand but returned his gaze to the path in front of him and kept on walking.

The back door banged shut and she heard him stamping his boots. ‘Sylvia.’

She began to descend the stairs. Harry was standing at the bottom.

‘OK if I bring a couple of the guys in for a coffee in the kitchen? Not the whole crowd, just Ludo and Rockstr probably.’

Sylvia nodded, one hand resting on the banister rail, her foot still on the bottom stair, as if she was unsure whether to descend fully. ‘There might still be biscuits in the tin.’

He looked at her expressionless face: eyes almost unseeing, mouth set. ‘Will you join us?’

She shook her head, still hesitating on the stair.

‘Come on. It’ll do you good.’

The back door banged again and the sound of exuberant voices filled the room beyond. Sylvia turned away to climb the stairs again but Harry took hold of her hand. She turned to face him, surprised.

‘Come on, have a coffee with us. I’ll introduce you.’

‘No, Harry, really. I’ve things to do.’

‘Like what?’

She stared at him, trying to wrench her hand away but Harry held it firmly.

‘Harry. Let me go.’

He let her hand fall and tried unsuccessfully to swallow the words before they came. ‘If you’d just try…’

Sylvia looked up towards the top of the stairs as if at the summit of a mountain. ‘This is me trying, Harry,’ she said softly.