Monday, 29 May 2017
Release Date: 18th May 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Romance
The number one bestselling author returns with a glorious summer read – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. But when you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy, things don’t look so bright.
This isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. And with her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
Praise for Sue Moorcroft:
‘I love all of Sue Moorcroft’s books.’
‘Moorcroft has done her research on the topics before penning the book, and that has paid off. From the intricacies of hat making, to the ins-and-outs of a Marketing/PR agency, every detail has been thought of and it’s these little intricacies that help to make the novel special.’
The Herald (Scotland)
‘A magical must!’
Unfortunately, the day’s kayaking on the River Ill in the forest of Illwald achieved a poor rating on the fun scale. Natasha, though she achieved her aim of sharing a boat with Leah, became tearful every time she was splashed, Jordan called her Gnasher, or one of the ugly grey bugs that plagued the river took a bite of her. As a result, she spent most of the day sporting damp eyes. Every ten minutes she’d sigh, ‘I wish Mum was with us,’ which made Jordan snap, ‘Shut up, Gnasher.’
Alister emerged from his thoughts long enough to say, ‘Bit kinder, maybe, Jordan?’ and Jordan fell to silent scowling, stabbing the khaki surface of the river with an angry paddle.
Leah drove home longing to hide away in La Petite Annexe and treat herself to a huge glass of pinot gris. Instead, as she shifted down a gear to encourage The Pig up the slope towards the gîte, she cast around for something to improve the mood. ‘Do you kids want to make mug cakes when we get back? Your mum’s preparing dinner but we could make dessert.’
‘Are mug cakes like cupcakes, only bigger?’ Jordan’s expression lightened.
‘No, a mug cake’s made in a mug, in the microwave.’
Natasha who’d managed to bag the front passenger seat coming home, looked more cheerful, her nose red from the sun. ‘Chocolate mug cake?’
‘Of course. Nice and gooey. We can put some cola in the mixture to make it moist.’
‘Any chance of coffee in mine? Good and dark?’ Alister smiled at Leah via the rear-view mirror. Smiling wasn’t something he’d done a lot of today and Leah grinned in return. Alister was a nice man. He’d been her brother-in-law since she was seventeen and it was painful to see him so sad, yet trying to cover it up. ‘Coffee, cola, nuts, orange, strawberries – everyone can choose.’
The atmosphere lightened as Jordan suggested ‘Marshmallow and Haribo’ and Natasha countered with ‘Banana and lime. And chocolate, obvs.’ Amazing what cake could do to lift the spirits.
When they pulled up in front of the gîte, Leah spotted that the workman from earlier had moved his area of endeavour to the front balcony of the house next door, while his studs-and-chains young companion leaned on the rail, playing with his phone. Both turned at the sound of the car. The workman flashed his grin, giving an airy wave of his paintbrush before turning back to his work. The teenager just looked.
‘Who’s that boy?’ hissed Natasha.
Jordan tugged her hair. ‘Someone too cool for you.’
‘He’s not!’ Natasha responded in indignation. ‘He’s just Goth. We’ve got loads of Goths at school. They’re not allowed to wear their piercings in school but they put up with it because Goths are big on tolerance.’
‘Being excluded if they don’t comply has a lot to do with that kind of tolerance,’ Alister observed.
He and Leah began to clear The Pig of the cans and bottles accumulated during the day. Jordan and Natasha dawdled off down the path at the side of the house as if the mess was nothing to do with them.
Overtaking the kids, Leah followed Alister through the back door and into the kitchen. The room was cool and quiet. She paused, listening, becoming aware of Alister listening in the same way.
She glanced at her watch. Six thirty. The kitchen looked exactly as it had when they’d left it this morning. No salad washed, nothing cooking. She glanced out of the window. No barbecue alight.
‘What’s for dinner?’ Natasha bumped through the door behind them. ‘Or can we start the cakes straight away? I’m staaaaaaaaaaarving.’
‘Can I have crisps?’ demanded Jordan.
One glance at the apprehensive expression that had settled over Alister’s face and Leah smoothly picked up the slack. ‘Dinner before the cakes,’ she suggested brightly. ‘I’ll whip up a risotto and we’ll have it with salad. There’s some of that fab bread left, too, I think.’
‘I’ll find Mum.’ Natasha trotted off through the hall.
Alister cleared his throat. ‘I thought Michele said she’d cook?’
‘She’s probably having a nap.’ Leah hoped. But, somehow, she didn’t think so – the house had had an empty air. She slopped a little olive oil into a heavy pan, popped it onto the hob to heat, took out two onions and topped, tailed and peeled them. With swift, machine-gun movements, she passed them under her flashing blade, ch-ch-ch-ch-CHAH, using the back of the knife to scrape the pieces from the chopping board into the pan, stirring briskly, then turning to the fridge for bacon, mushrooms, parmesan and cream.
Natasha bounded back into the room, eyes wide. ‘I can’t find Mum!’
Somehow Leah wasn’t shocked to hear it. She just tried to smile reassuringly as the delicious smell of sizzling bacon filtered into the air. ‘She’s probably gone for a walk.’ But she’d had all day. Why would Michele leave it until now, when she’d promised to have dinner waiting?
ABOUT SUE MOORCROFT
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award, and been nominated for others, including a ‘RoNA’ (Romantic Novel Award). Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, and a past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and editor of its two anthologies. The daughter of two soldiers, Sue was born in Germany and went on to spend much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus. She lives in Kettering.