Tag Archives: fiction

Hannah’s Moon by John A Heldt

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I really enjoyed a couple of books by John Heldt last year. You may see my reviews of The Mine here and Indiana Belle here. So I was pleased when John asked me to review his latest book, Hannah’s Moon. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Hannah's Moon by John A Heldt

 

Here is the book blurb.

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel.

Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival.

Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

This book starts in the present day (or a few months hence to be precise) when Claire and Ron’s son is stillborn. A couple of months later they decide to try to adopt, but discover the average wait time is 6 years and that they will need a hefty loan to afford the fee.

When Claire’s brother David comes to visit, he brings far-fetched news from their Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Geoffrey Bell. They have a time-travel tunnel in their basement and David has been through it back to 2001 and retrieved Claire’s lost diary. The Bells are offering Claire and Ron the chance to time-travel back to 1945, when it should be easy to adopt.

So a few weeks later with falsified documents, Claire, Ron and David head back to 1945 at the same time as the Bells, Uncle Geoffrey has set them up with a $10,000 savings account and rented them a house. They say their goodbyes to the Bells who are heading to Latin America and board a train to Tennessee.

There they get very friendly with neighbour Margaret and begin the process to adopt 10 month old Hannah. They are on a 3 month parent probation period before the adoption will be finalised, so can’t return to the modern day as soon as they hoped. But when Ron intervenes to save a black man from a beating, things start to get more tricky initially and then very scary indeed.

That’s all I’m going to say about the storyline. However it is interesting to note that this is the final story in the American Journey series, as I saw scope for at least a couple more books featuring Geoffrey Bell. I’ve only read two out of the five, but I liked how those two are linked by his character, yet they work brilliantly as stand-alone stories.

Hannah’s Moon is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.10 in Kindle format. I loved this book. A really great read which certainly lived up to my expectations of a John Heldt novel, As always I highly recommend this author.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Head of State by Andrew Marr

Head of State written by Andrew Marr, the television presenter is another book I rescued from the box that my other half was getting rid of. I normally avoid anything political, but I thought I’d give this one a chance. I was attracted to it, as although published back in 2014, it is a Brexit storyline.

Head of State by Andrew Marr

This is what it says on the back cover.

A young reporter found dead on the streets of London.

A headless body washed up on the banks of the Thames.

A conspiracy so bold it would make Machiavelli wince.

There are three days to go until the referendum, and the future of the United Kingdom in Europe hangs in the balance. Behind the scenes a group of ruthlessly determined individuals will stop at nothing – including murder – to make sure the result tips in their favour…

Making full use of his unrivalled inside knowledge, Andrew Marr’s wickedly clever thriller is a gleefully twisted spin through the corridors of power.

The book starts with a dead body being discovered 3 days before the referendum vote regarding whether Britain should stay or leave the EU. How and why did he die? We are then introduced to some of the other characters before moving back in time to referendum day minus 5. We continue to move back and forth a couple of days or so throughout the book, meeting more new characters, including senior politicians and the king. There is certainly plenty for the reader to try to digest.

At the morgue, there is another unidentified dead body, this time headless and handless. Meanwhile about a third of the way through the book, the reader starts to find out what some of the characters don’t know. We continue to be fed information piecemeal, enough to keep me to the edge of my seat, with all the secrets, plots and intrigues. And that is all I’m going to say.

Head of State is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in hardback or Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.

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Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

I have received a free e-copy of the book Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn to review.

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

Here is the book blurb.

Detective Sergeant Taylor Nick is back and in charge of tracking down a sadistic vigilante, with a penchant for torturing paedophiles, in this unsettling crime thriller by a real-life police sergeant.

High-powered businessmen are turning up tortured, and traumatised, around the city of Edinburgh with one specific thing in common -a sinister double life involving pedophilia. Leaving his ‘victims’ in a disturbing state, the individual responsible calls the police and lays bare the evidence of their targets twisted misdemeanours to discover, along with a special memento of their own troubled past —a chilling calling card.

Once again heading the investigation team is Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks, along with her partner Detective Constable Marcus Black, who are tasked not only with tracking the perpetrator down, but dealing with the unusual scenario of having to arrest the victims for their own barbarous crimes. But with the wounded piling up the predator’s thirst for revenge intensifies and Nicks soon discovers that she is no longer chasing down a sinister attacker but a deadly serial killer.

Inspired by her vast professional experience as a police officer both on the beat and in specialist riot squads in Edinburgh, Porcelain is the second in Lee Cockburn’s DS Taylor Nick’s series.

This book Is very dark. It starts 22 years ago with very young twins Amy and Nathan being abused by their mother and her boyfriend. We then fast forward to the current day to see the police investigating a series of crimes where paedophiles are tortured. And we also follow the investigating officers’ personal lives, which includes explicit lesbian sex scenes. We meet both Amy and Nathan again, who are still troubled by their past.

By chance Amy and Nathan find each other after being separated when they were taken into care. Then a paedophile is murdered rather than tortured. Next a young boy is abducted – it is the son of DC Marcus Black. Can he be found in time? And who is targeting the paedophiles?

Each time a porcelain doll is left at the crime scene. I found this really spooky as I was always scared as a child by the two china dolls that had belonged to my mum and now lived on the bottom shelf of my toy cupboard. I deliberately wouldn’t put any of my toys in there to avoid looking at them.

I won’t say any more about the storyline. but I did sometimes get confused as to whether I was reading about Nathan or Amy.

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A dark story which is definitely worth a read if you can handle the subject matter.

This book is recommended for adult readers only, due to its graphic content.


About Lee Cockburn

Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.

Follow Lee Cockburn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lee_leecockburn


Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

And you may see a guest post by Lee, detailing her Inspiration for the book on my blog here.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

My other half was clearing out some of his books and several of them including this one by Robert Goddard took my eye.

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

This is what it says on the back cover.

Paris 1919. The aftermath of the Great War.

With the fate of the world’s nations hanging in the balance, a secret affair ends with the death of a senior British diplomat.

As the authorities try to pass it off as a bizarre accident, ex-RFC flying ace, James ‘Max’ Maxted is convinced otherwise and throws himself headfirst into the dark heart of a seemingly impenetrable mystery – hellbent on uncovering the truth.

With the stakes impossibly high and friends indistinguishable from foes, the only way is to keep pushing … until you can see who’s pushing back!

The book starts with a phone call from Max’s mother announcing that his father has been killed. Henry had fallen from a roof-top in Paris and the police have declared it accidental. Lady Maxted requests Max and his brother Ashley go to Paris to bring Sir Henry’s body back home.

Max starts to get suspicious when identifying Sir Henry’s body and visiting the scene of his death and collecting his personal effects from the police. Things don’t quite add up for him. Then he meets Madame Dombreux who lived at the address where Sir Henry died. She was Sir Henry’s lover and also believes him to have been murdered. She shows Max a mysterious list that Sir Henry had written.

Whilst Ashley takes his father’s body home, Max remains in Paris, determined to discover the truth. Plenty of exciting twists to unfold. A real page turner.

The Ways of the World is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.49 in paperback and is also available in hardback or Kindle format. A great book which I highly recommend. It is book 1 in a trilogy and I shall certainly be adding the other two stories to my wishlist. Wondering why my other half never got round to purchasing the other two.

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The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt to review.

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

Here is the book blurb.

Tragedy and comedy in perfect proportion.

Kim and Flow are the best of friends, living on a council estate, making money selling drugs.

Just around the corner in a smarter part of Fulham is Clea, a well-heeled young woman coping with a violent home life at the hands of her twisted step-father.
The Principal runs a famous college for problem teens. Fostering guilty secrets which distance her from her own children, she resists the advances of a man she sees on the train every day.

When Kim and Clea meet by chance, Kim is smitten but worried about her. Using the anecdote of the frog theory – that it will jump straight out of boiling water and live, but stay in and die if heated slowly from cold – he wakes her up to the dangerous situation she’s in at home.

Serendipity and a cake-fuelled food fight that goes viral will bring Kim, Clea, Flow and The Principal together in weird and wonderful ways in this frenetic, laugh-out-loud story about love, conscience and lion-hearted nerve.

The book starts by introducing the four main characters – Kim, Clate, the principal and Flow. Kim and Flow who live on a council estate in Fulham are best friends, but none of the others have crossed paths yet. Middle-class 18yr old Clate has a violent step-father Hugo and is still at school. We never get to know the name of the principal, but she is a single mother, who is principal at one of the roughest colleges in London.

Clate is grounded but is allowed to go to cleaner Maureen’s 70th birthday. There she meets Kim and Maureen’s grandson Flow. Shortly afterwards when Clate with a split lip, coutesy of Hugo, bumps into Flow, he invites her to go out with them next Friday. However Flow had “forgotten” that it was his and Jackie’s engagement dinner, so asks Kim to go round and let Clate know.

Clate opens up about her home life to Kim and questions herself as to why she doesn’t leave. Kim tells her it is “The Frog Theory” – when you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps out and lives, but if you put it in cold water, then gently heat up, it stays in and dies. They talk for hours and then Clate asks Kim to kiss her, but he is too loyal to Flow.

Shortly afterwards Clate inherits a large sum of money from her biological father. She reverts from her nickname Clate back to her real name Clea and plucks up courage to leave home. Meanwhile Kim has realised that Flow is staying with girlfriend Jackie, so as he doesn’t have Clate’s number, he leaves a note in a beer bottle, hidden in the ivy outside Clate’s bedroom window, not realising she has already left.

Kim’s probation officer suggests he apply for college, and this is how we are introduced to the principal, when he signs up for a business planning course. He and Flow set up their own business.

There is lots more to come in the story, such as how does the principal feature and Flow bumping into Clea when she returns to England and asking her to join him and Kim for dinner. But I shall say no more.

The Frog Theory will be published on 14th February and is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.
Excerpt from The PartyThe moment Kim sees Clea for the first time, known for the moment by her nickname, Clate.

Kim looked Clate up and down. She was medium height and dying of embarrassment. She had long, blondish hair, which was covering most of her face, and she was wearing a shapeless dress, which didn’t give any clue as to what her future might be like.
‘You look like Cousin Itt off The Munsters under all that hair,’ said Kim, as an ill-chosen icebreaker.
‘I think you’ll find that Cousin Itt featured in The Addams Family, actually,’ she replied tartly.
La di da! Thought Kim, Jackie and Flow simultaneously.
‘He was only kidding,’ said Flow, trying to save the day ‘Can I get you a drink?’
‘Sauvignon blanc, please,’ said Clate, without thinking much. It was the only white wine she had heard of.
‘Errrrr…’ said Flow, exchanging glances with Kim. ‘I’m not sure they’ll feature any of that at this bar! It’s a white wine, isn’t it?’
‘Actually, I’ll have whatever you’re drinking,’ she said, eager to get the attention away from herself as soon as possible.
‘A pint of lager?’
‘No… not that…’ She looked at Jackie’s drink. ‘What are you drinking?’ she asked shyly, in a glazed millisecond taking in Jackie’s dark good looks and beautifully fitted top and skirt combo, complementing her curly, compact figure. Her bra strap was showing and it was red. Clate had never owned red underwear.
‘Vodka and lemonade,’ said Jackie, still looking her up and down.
‘I’ll have one of those, then,’ she said, going red again as Flow beckoned for the barman.
They stood in embarrassed silence and Clate stared downwards at Jackie’s shapely legs, black strappy high sandals wrapped around neat feet sporting immaculately polished red toenails, Flow’s well-worn trainers that looked loved and comfortable below some sort of dark trousers.
‘So… What brings you here?’ said Jackie at last. Clate look up, flicking her hair out of her face.
Kim couldn’t work out whether she was beautiful or ugly; she had the kind of looks that needed a second opinion.


About the author

After attending school for model-making, Mordaunt started Image Casting in 1998, specialising in customised body castings. Over the course of 13 years, she worked on such films as Atonement and The Wildest Dream, as well as for personal clients like Lionel Richie. In 2012, she relocated to Botswana with her husband and daughter where she currently resides.

http://www.fionamordaunt.com/


I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Gilding the Lily by Justine John

I have received a free e-copy of the book Gilding the Lily by Justine John to review.

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

Here is the book blurb.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

Amelia and husband Jack travel from London to New York to attend a surprise 75th birthday party for her father Roger, organised by his new partner Evelyn. There they meet Evelyn’s step-granddaughter Laura for the first time. Amelia finds it very difficult to get on with Evelyn, but makes friends with Laura, who visits them in London, the next year when over in the UK.

They return to the US for Thanksgiving, but at the airport waiting to go home, they receive a phone call from Miriam, Roger’s housekeeper saying that Roger had been taken into hospital the previous day. They postpone their flight, but Evelyn is not pleased to see them return.

Roger recovers but when he next visits the UK, they are shocked to see how unwell he looks. Ex-cop Jack starts to get suspicious as to why and begins to develop a theory, although there are some red herrings.  I’ll stop at this point to avoid spoilers.

The book switches chapters between narrative by Amelia, Jack and Evelyn, which I enjoyed the different perspective. And the chapters for Evelyn let the reader build up a picture of her history.

Gilding the Lily is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from chapter 18 of the book for you to read.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But a strange dread ran through my veins, as I lay there in the dark. Jack was finally sleeping soundly – the odd snore and mumble emanated from his side of the bed. We’d talked for hours. And now, each thought linked to another in a never-ending chain. “She has enough money of her own so I know she’s not after mine” was what my father told me when they first met. Ironically, it comforted us both. Staring into the blackness, I began to get carried away with Jack’s theory. If it were true then we had to stop it. It would be murder. No, that couldn’t happen, surely, not to us. I tried to mentally rein in my thoughts, as they began to hurry away with me, like a runaway train. Who were we to interfere so belligerently when we could be so wrong? And then again, if we did nothing, and then something terrible happened… that was simply unthinkable.

I turned over to put my arms around my husband. He was warm and his breathing was soft and slow. I tried to relax into his body, and allowed his raising ribs to rock me.

I woke at 6a.m. with a feverish energy. A strange vitality or stamina had suddenly appeared in me – a drive to endure, a surge of power, like a battery charger. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt my dad. Something had to be done. Today.


About Justine John

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

Website  – http://www.justinejohn.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JustineCJohn
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/justinejohnauthor/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15985439.Justine_John


I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson

I have received a free e-copy of the book The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson

Here is the book blurb.

Homemaker Ella Casey is circling the middle-age drain. Her once adventurous life is now measured in loads of laundry, her grand dreams of changing the world diluted with each rinse cycle. When she flies to the enchanting California estate of her best friend Teri for a Peace Corps reunion, the accomplishments of her peers threaten to soak up the last drops of Ella’s floundering self-esteem.

Teri Flores is everything Ella is not: glamorous, wealthy, and fearless. Her sprawling mansion, La Casa Del Alma, serves as both artists’ retreat and modern day salon to Teri’s eclectic entourage. Teri entertains her guests with lavish meals, outrageous activities, and impassioned debates, but the weekend sours when old grievances mix with new ambitions.

As past and present collide, Ella struggles to redefine herself, but will her growing need to validate her life end up destroying it?

The House of the Soul is a journey of love, loss, and friendship, and a treasure map for anyone brave enough to embark on the precarious voyage of self-discovery.

Ella leaves her family back home in New Zealand whilst she flies to California for a reunion with her associates from her time spent in the Peace Corps in Ghana 13 years ago. This is hosted by her very rich best friend Teri. Charlie collects her from the airport in a limo and a packed itinerary follows, including awards dinner for which she has nothing to wear. Inbetween there is pampering from Sachi, one of Teri’s resident artists, who does massage and yoga workshops too.

The book is interspersed with plenty of flashbacks to their time in Ghana.

Ella is full of self-doubt when she unpacks the suitcase that her husband David had packed for her. Sweatpants, t-shirts etc. Nothing elegant at all. Is this how David sees her now? Teri to the rescue with a huge choice of designer dresses in Ella’s size. And then to meet up with all the others before another limo ride to the awards, where actor Ben, Master of Ceremonies for the evening takes a shine to Ella. How does she react?

Meanwhile how do the old gang all mix together now? Pleasantly or will sparks fly? I’m not going to say any more. You’ll have to read it to see how the story develops.

The House of the Soul is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.99 in paperback or £3.96 in Kindle format. I loved this book and highly recommend it. A great read.

However I’m not convinced that the cover does justice to the book. Although a lovely picture, it is irrelevant to the story-line.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Senator’s Youngest Daughter by Kelley Rose Waller

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Senator’s Youngest Daughter by Kelley Rose Waller to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The Senator's Youngest Daughter by Kelley Rose Waller

Here is the book blurb.

Senator A.C. McFerren has been missing for more than six months. The obvious prime suspect in his disappearance is the homegrown terrorist group known as the Army of Social Justice.

Searching for her kidnapped father leads Brenna McFerren Jefferson to the terrorists’ elusive “Death of Government” headquarters, known as The Doghouse. But nosing around where the federal government won’t investigate puts a target on her family… and sets in motion a rebellion she isn’t prepared to lead.

Dreams of liberty cause the Senator’s daughter to disguise herself for undercover recon, recruit a high-ranking defector, and partner with a subversive news agency that combats government propaganda. As Brenna’s strength and family ties are tested, she unites a political party that commands the power to transform the United States.

I found this book a little confusing to start with as I tried to work out who was who – Litants, Versives, ASJ’s, dogs, but once I had mastered that, I was soon immersed. And throw Secret Service and Federal Troopers into the mix. It is set in an alternate reality of the US, where American Congress has been permanently dissolved, so that the nation is led only by the president.

It starts with Brenna spying on The Doghouse where her kidnapped father is being held and as she returns home, she passes the library when it is blown up. These events start the pace of the story which continues in a similar vein. All of Brenna’s family have their role to play. Her husband Tate is Chief of Staff for her Senator father and is channelling his efforts into investigating his disappearance. Her brother Ike and sister-in-law Reese are both cyber security computer geniuses and also run a subversive news network. Her sister Esther had been planning to go into politics, before state government was disbanded.

It also includes both funny and sad moments, the funniest being when Brenna’s trousers get snagged in a tight situation and the only way she can free herself, is to leave them behind, continuing on the mission in just her top and underwear.

I won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, but this book is definitely worth a read.

The Senator’s Youngest Daughter is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.12 in paperback or £1.63 in Kindle format. A real page turner with plenty of twists. Highly recommended.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Against Her Will by Peter Martin

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I recently reviewed and very much enjoyed A Sense of Discovery. The author, Peter Martin has now sent me a free e-copy of another of his titles, Against Her Will to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Against Her Will by Peter Martin

Here is the book blurb.

Rape is every woman’s worst nightmare, an act so vile, so devastating, it robs the victim of any sort of dignity, leaving scars that can last a. lifetime. Having family and friends rally round can make all the difference in the world. But without this support the victim may never fully recover. Donna is such a victim. When she is brutally raped, her life comes crashing down, bringing with it memories of an unhappy childhood. Having lost everything dear to her, she almost succeeds in making the ultimate sacrifice, but for a young male nurse, who slowly helps her come to terms with the past. Just when she thinks she’s over the worst, she makes a horrifying discovery that puts her in mortal danger.

Donna, a beautiful clever 22 year old was raped and brutally attacked on her way home from work by a man in a balaclava. Unable to help identify him and no matching DNA on police files, she lives in fear of him finding her again. Although her fiancée and parents try to rally round, they don’t seem to realise that they are trying to push Donna too hard. First she moves into the spare bedroom, then her relationship breaks down and unable to cope with returning to work, she quits her job.

When Donna starts self-harming, her parents pay for her to be placed in a hospital for the mentally ill. When an opportunity presents, she is on the verge of committing suicide, when Evan, a young male nurse persuades her back from the brink. Evan continues to go way beyond his job role to help Donna on the road to recovery.

I won’t say any more but this is a very powerful storyline. I enjoyed this book, although not quite as much as A Sense of Discovery, Peter’s latest novel.

Against Her Will is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format or £5.31 in paperback. A great read with a real twist at the end. Highly recommended.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas – Red Scarf by John Hickling

I have received an exclusive special Christmas short story Red Scarf written by John Hickling, to share with you. Earlier this year, I read Champagne & Lemonade, a collection of his short stories, which I enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this. And I have to say, it certainly lived up to expectation. So I hope you like it too.

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas

Red Scarf

The snow was thick and blissful on 23rd of December. The beautiful white streets of this normally dirty City were bursting with life, people of all ages and race shopped for xmas presents for their loved ones. Christmas trees, decorations and lights were strewn all over, making the streets look like a delightfully pretty xmas scene painting. Unfortunately, not everything was perfect, as beggar’s, the unfortunates were dotted around the City. Shivering, wrapped up in anything they could get their hands on, to try and keep warm.

A couple of streets away were a married couple, both in their late forties, they were wrapped up in thick long coats and wore matching red scarves. They battled their way through the deep snow with bags full of xmas presents. Turning into a dark alleyway back to their parked car, there were a couple of beggars tucked up in old sleeping bags.

“Spare any change? Please” Croaked an elderly scruffy looking man. The man in the red scarf rummaged through his pockets and passed the beggar a couple of quid.

“Bless ya” mumbled the beggar. The couple smiled and carried on their walk. Further on, from nowhere, two men jumped out on the couple knocking the woman to the snow covered ground. Her husband fought back but was overpowered, one of the attackers pulled out a knife, the red scarfed man looked death in the eye, when a scruffy boy, hit the attacker with a traffic cone. The other assailant pushed the boy to the ground and grabbing what they could they ran away. The red scarfed man gingerly got to his feet. The boy jumped up and fled.

“Wait” yelled the man, then rushed to his aid his semi-conscious Wife.

The couple, whose names were Alan and Mandy, were drinking coffee in the police station. Mandy still had a groggy head which was not helped by ‘I wish It could be Christmas every day’ blaring out the radio. Alan who suffers from OCD was getting very irritated by the scruffy, leaning to the left Xmas tree.

The investigating officer read over the statement. Two men, both dark hair, one with a scruffy beard, 35 to 45 in age, both in black clothing. A boy in jeans, black ripped jacket, blue peaked woolly hat, 16 to 17 in age. Some bottles of wine, a games console and perfumes were taken. It was established that the couple had never seen the boy before or noticed where he came from.

“Transport has arrived to take you both home Sir. We will be in touch with any information”

“Thank you officer, will you please promise to search for the boy? He shouldn’t be on the streets, not just at Christmas, but at all” said the weak smiling woman, squeezing Alans hand.

“We will madam. Please go home and get some rest. The couple bid farewell and merry Christmas and left.

At the couple’s home, Mandy was in tears clutching a photograph of her, her husband and their daughter who had been swept of a pier on a daytrip to the coast over a year ago. They were all wearing matching red scarves, gloves and hats, that were Christmas presents, she was 13 at the time. Her body was never recovered.

“I do hope the boy is alright Alan” murmured Mandy. Alan held her tight.

The snow was now swirling down, it was very dark and cold. The boy, who was below a brick archway under a bridge, had managed to get a fire going and was munching on a sandwich he had bought from his begging takings. He bedded down in his smelly sleeping bag.

In an old abandoned warehouse, the two robbers were sat around an old oil drum that housed a fire. The robber with the beard was rubbing his head.

“I tell ya, that boy, he could blow on us if the coppers find him, we must find him first” The other robber nodded has he looked through the stolen bags.

Christmas Eve and Alan had just got off the phone from the police who had informed him that so far they had neither found the robbers or the boy. It was 630pm. Alan and Mandy were concerned for the boy’s safety. Alan felt it was his duty to at least look for him, after all he had saved his life. Alan wrapped his red scarf around his neck, donned his thick coat, hat and gloves.

“I must at least try Mandy I just hope to god those two scumbags are not after him” His wife hugged him. But that is what was happening, the two robbers had been searching for the boy.

Later, Alan asked a beggar, who he had given a fiver and a sandwich, if he knew of a young boy of his description. The beggar had told him to try the bridge brick archways, there are a few young uns that go there.

The boy was really feeling the cold, he hadn’t eaten since the sandwich and shivering he desperately tried to light a fire, when he thought he heard a noise. He looked around but couldn’t see anything, so attempted to light his fire.

“Well, well” yelled the bearded robber who was stood a few metres in front of the boy, the boy started to run but the other robber jumped on him. Both robbers had clubs and dragged the boy into the archway, the robber without the beard was about to whack the boy when he himself groaned and fell to the floor. Alan had hit him over the head with a stick, the bearded robber grabbed the boy, facing Alan

“Let the boy go” Alan shouted. The bearded robber laughed then pulled out a gun, the boy kicked the robbers leg and Alan threw the stick at his face, the gun dropped.

“Run” roared Alan, grabbing the boy. The robber grabbed his gun and gave chase. Alan and the boy struggled up a snow covered banking. The boy slipped and banged his head. Alan dragged the dazed boy to the top but the robber was right behind and fired a shot in the air. Alan and the boy stood with hands raised. The robber grinned

“Who’s first” he pressed the trigger but it jammed. Alan lunged at him pushing him down the bank, he and the boy ran.

At the police station, which was full of the usual xmas drunks, the two robbers were in custody, Alan and the scared boy were in a room, Mandy was also there. The police had constantly tried to quiz the boy who was looking more frightened by the second.

“Stop it” Said Mandy passing the boy a sandwich, the boy whose face was so dirty and bruised tucked in.

“We would like to thank you for helping us yesterday. We only want to help you. What is your name honey?” smiled Mandy, her husband and the police nodded. The confused looking boy, shrugged and mumbled.

“I am not sure; I can’t remember” tears welled up his eyes.

“Are you hurt? You did get a bang on the head when we slid down the banking” Prompted Alan. The boy held his dirty face in his hands and shrugged.

The officer was just about to go into another volley full of questioning, when Mandy pulled them all aside.

“Look the boy is hurt, confused and very scared, you will only frighten him more with the constant questions. Let me and Alan take him home, give him a nice meal, a bath and a bed, then I am sure he will come around” Alan smiled as he and his wife held hands. The police whispered among themselves for a couple of minutes, before agreeing with Mandy. Everyone was happy, even Mandy smiled at ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’ on the radio.

Back at the couple’s house Alan had hung up their coats, red scarfs and hats, while Mandy put on the kettle. The boy stood near the fire looking confused.

“Please don’t be scared, I will make you something nice to eat. First I will run the bath” smiled Mandy. The boy smiled back.

“Let me hang up your coat” Alan said, gesturing for the boy to take of his dirty ripped jacket. The boy looked around at all the decorations then back at Alan and Mandy, smiling he proceeded to take of his woolly peaked hat and coat. The couple stood opened mouthed at the scruffy, thin looking blonde haired girl, with a red scarf around her neck.


About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing July 5th 2016 RRP £6.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com or find John on Facebook or Twitter.

Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling


I’m participating in the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of festive reading tastes.

12 days of Clink Street Christmas blogtour

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Disclosure. This post contains an exclusive short story I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.