Monday, 29 February 2016

Book Review - "Hot Feminist" by Polly Vernon.


I received a copy of this title, via bookbridgr.com, for review purposes...

I am hereby proclaiming my 'selective feminism' and have been vaguely doing so for many years now.  It has gained me a couple of enemies and many incredulous glances.  It seems that women of my generation are not impressed by my decision to embrace some feminist thought, while dismissing others.  Reading this title made me realise that I am not alone.  Let me start by saying that I do not agree with all aspects of Polly Vernon's logic,  but applaud her brashness in voicing her opinions.  She has given me the courage to be more open and honest about my 'selective feminism'.  

Polly is a well-known columnist and features writer for publications including The Times and Grazia. Not afraid to speak her mind, she has been causing headlines in the world of media for many years.  She defends her right to remain super-skinny, champions her refusal to have children and has no intention of getting married.  This may not not sound like anything new, but she does all this while managing to love fashion, femininity and flirting as much as possible.  She is chained to her beauty routine, but secretly loves it, she ogles men as much as Don Draper-types have been doing at women for centuries and she has no qualms questioning her right for equality in the workforce.   She has gone through stages of working demeaning, sexist jobs (one involving a cat suit and wonderbra), been a victim of sexual assault and experienced soul-destroying relationships.  She admits her mistakes, while explaining the reasoning behind bad decisions and manages to make cocky seem humble at times. 
 The only issue I had with her essays is the one that seems to irk me about most contemporary feminist writers.  They rarely have children, they tend to have good salaried jobs, no husbands and live in  urban landscapes. Usually aged between 25 and 40, they forget that some of us women live in extremely busy households, with children needing to be washed/fed/cuddled and husbands who work every hour available to pay for the roof over our heads.(Sometimes also wanting to be fed and cuddled.)  Not all of us can afford to work full-time (childcare being more expensive than the actual take-home salary) and we rarely have cash to hit the beauty salons and hairdressers to remain the sexy divas we were pre-children/responsibilities.   Yes, we had the choice to remain childless, but that doesn't mean we should be dismissed as 'letting the feminist side down' by giving up work or letting go of our separate bank accounts.  This said, I found myself laughing out loud, on a recent flight to London, whilst reading the opening chapters of this book.  Holly shares her fashion tips, while poking fun at herself and her girlfriends.  She does this without feeling the need to degrade men (which can become very tiresome) as a whole gender.  There are the usual humourous digs about men's inability to remember to buy gifts or spot the obvious, but it's all in good faith.  She also divulges her secrets on how to be fancied.  I found this very amusing and took it in the spirit it was intended.  (I can see the smoke coming out of some feminist ears). She sees it a bit like I do.  We (women) like to look good.  We like to smell good.  We like to feel attractive (to either sex).  We have shitty days where we are sick of the effort it takes to look good and we get very competitive on our children's behalves. Our male counterparts tend to get competitive in work and in sport.  End of.   The most profound page in the book is where the author sums up rape and how a convicted rapist can get less time in prison than a tax-evader.  It is the one, major area where we women cannot seem to gain momentum in modern society.  It's the one that we have no control over (except for not having legal control over our bodies in Ireland, but that's another story).  We want to wear whatever we like without fearing the repercussions, yet we still find our hairs standing up when in precarious situations.  Will we ever be 100% safe, whether wearing belly tops or burkas? 

A big 'selective feminist' thumbs up from me.  It's so nice to read a more relaxed viewpoint and know that fancying men, dressing up and wearing make-up, making the occasional cake and letting a man hold the door open for you, does not mean we are not feminist.  We are just feminists who feel free to decide how to interpret the word...

Hot Feminist is published by Hodder and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

  

Monday, 22 February 2016

Book Review - "My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout.



I received a copy of this title, via netgalley.com...

Lucy Barton is experiencing an unexpected hospital stay and a room full of memories.  The long, drawn-out days are suddenly broken up when her mother pays an unprecedented visit, and becomes her maternal companion.  Time ticks slowly by and the two women while away the hours with random memories from  their small-town Illinois past, their hotch-potch of neighbours and townsfolk, whilst avoiding the harsh realities of Lucy's childhood.  The relationship between the mother and daughter is tense, yet familiar.  Lucy tries to gleam some insight into her mother's unusual personae and craves some attention that was lacking in her past.  Meanwhile, he mother dusts off any personal details, avoids any reference to the darkness of their past, yet still manages to become a soothing presence at a difficult time.  Lucy's life has altered, and will continue to do so, but the shift in family life, location and her search for inner-contentment are all part of what makes her herself, Lucy Barton...

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Elizabeth Strout, has produced a tiny novel, with epic proportions.  Quite simply, this is the most unexpectedly beautiful piece of fiction I have come across in years.  I had no pre-conceptions, as I received an early edition, and by page one I was hooked.  The writing is exquisite and the story reaches into the readers soul, without initial detection.  It is only when you feel your breathe catching, as you read the stunning prose, that you suddenly realise how powerful words can be.

While Lucy has had a pretty lousy childhood, stricken by poverty, distant parents and basically self-educated, she has escaped it all.  Now living in New York, with her husband and two children, she is  stricken with a serious infection after a routine surgery.  All of a sudden she is trapped, long-term, in a private hospital room with the days dragging by. Her husband and children are rare visitors and she feels deserted.  Her mother, with whom she has virtually no connection to, arrives unannounced and Lucy's inner world is steered off course.  She has so many questions, yet is afraid to ask them.  She has so much she wants to say to her mother, but she cannot bring herself to utter the words.  The atmosphere is fraught with the unspoken words of the two women and yet they are comfortable in their own, unusual way.  
As the novel gently progresses, the reader gains further insight into Lucy's personality, travelling on an open-ended journey alongside her.  The distance of her own past relationships has a rippling effect on her own family, but she still craves love. 

 This is a story of how a mother and daughter may be of the same flesh and blood, yet have nothing in common.  There can be moments of friendship, seasons of goodwill and promises made.  But is this enough?  Can you make someone love you?  Cleverly using Lucy Barton as a solo voice, powerfully independent, at the same time  in need, the author has written a tale of a complete life.  It may be a short novel, but it certainly deserves massive respect.  Thoroughly recommended.

My Name Is Lucy Barton is published by Viking and is available in Hardback and ebook format. 

Friday, 19 February 2016

Book Review - "A Parcel For Anna Browne" by Miranda Dickinson.




Anna Browne is an ordinary girl, working an average 9-5 job, with no greater aspirations than getting from one weekend to the next.  She has a small and select group of friends and a love/hate relationship with her family.  When she starts receiving surprise parcels to her workplace, she is confused as to just who would send her these gifts.  The mystery soon becomes the talk of the office, which just happens to be a tabloid newspaper, bringing unforeseen attention to the relatively shy Anna.  Just who is sending her these well-thought-out presents and what is the senders motive?  

Miranda Dickinson is one of the UK's most beloved female-fiction writers.  She has a dedicated following and is wonderfully interactive with her readers online.  When this book came through my letterbox I was more than happy to escape into Anna's world and was soon sucked into the mystery of the anonymous parcels (whilst secretly wishing I could receive some similar post).  Anna is a warm and gentle character, with a troubled childhood that lingers, resulting in insecurity.  She has few friends, but the ones she have are genuine souls and can be trusted.  Reluctantly she informs them of the surprise parcels and together they try to decipher the identity of the sender.  There are comical moments to be had while the office workers come up with their own theories, whereas Anna takes a more pragmatic approach.  A wonderful, dizzy array of characters make this a story to raise your spirits.  Anna has the lovely balance of innocence and charm that is trademark to Miranda Dickinson's protagonists, and I feel we all know someone just like her.  She is deserved of a warm embrace, someone to love (and love her back) and a happy-ever-after.  As we say over here, "she hasn't a bad bone in her body".  But can the sender of these gifts be as genuine as Anna herself?  Are there reasons for the well-chosen items and their recipient?  As the wrapping unfolds, so does the story...

A light, yet thoughtful read with some laugh out loud moments and soul-searching storylines.  Miranda Dickinson is a voice to be heard and ideal for female fiction fans everywhere.  Ideal for readers of Claudia Carroll and Abby Clements. 


A Parcel For Anna Browne is published by Pan MacMillan and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

Monday, 15 February 2016

Book Review - "The Teacher" by Katerina Diamond.



I received a copy of this title, for review purposes, from netgalley.com...


The head teacher of a prominent fee-paying school has been found hanging on school property.  Suicide seems likely and foul play is ruled out.  That is, until the body count increases and the intensity of the crimes raises at astonishing levels.  
Disgraced Detective Adrian Miles is partnered with another 'rogue' officer, DS Imogen Grey, and together they try to piece together the lives of the victims while dodging false leads.   
Meanwhile, the quiet life of a museum taxidermist, Abbey Lucas, is not all it appears to be.  Abbey is harboring a secret and trying to escape her past.  But while she preserves the bodies of dead animals, the bodies of humans are piling up...

This is debut designed for the strong-stomached reader.  Graphic descriptions and macabre memories from the outset make this a deliciously dark novel.  The unknown killer is giving a cloak of secrecy, both his identity and his motive, and the clues are drip-fed to us in varying chapters.  The characters are a wonderful mix of nasty and nice, each with their own quirks and agendas.  Detectives Miles and Grey are a great team, with their own shame and despair seeping into their investigation, albeit unofficially.  The murders are intense affairs, with lots of blood, guts and symbolism, but each with an apparent link.  There is food for thought at times with a nod to the darker side of life:

"Everyone has a secret behaviour they are ashamed of, something inside that constantly tried to force its way out.  We all have something that will not be denied."

A serial killer is nothing new within fiction, but this story, along with its great police-duo, is up with the best of them.  A bizarre narrative is balanced by clear and concise writing, endearing characters and a clever location (I'm a bit fan of museums and all the secrets and history they hold).  Katerina Diamond has created a pacy, powerful debut which will have her readers begging for more from Miles and Grey.  The Teacher is ideal for fans of gritty thrillers, more murky than mundane...

The Teacher is published on 10th March 2016 in paperback and ebook format and be pre-ordered now.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book Review - "The Day I Lost You" by Fionnuala Kearney.



I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...


Anna has been reported missing following an avalanche during a skiing trip.  Her mother, Jess, is terrified that she will never see her daughter again and clings on with hope.  Anna's five-year-old daughter, Rose, keeps her Grandmother busy but waiting for the snow to thaw seems to stop time completel . Missing a daughter is bad enough, but when Rose's father comes to claim his parental rights, and hidden secrets begin to surface, Jess begins to realise that the day she lost Anna could be the day her own life ended...

How well do we know our children?  Even when they are living under our roof and spend the majority of their free time under our supervision?  When they progress to adulthood can we presume they are still the same child within? When they tap away on their phones, tablets and laptops are they living the same life we see in front of us?  What do they really think of us?  When they become parents, do they feel the same way as we do toward them?  Fionnuala Kearney has addressed all of these questions through the eyes of three main protagonists.  The reader can  identify with the grieving mother who is now sole-carer for her young granddaughter, during her daughter's absence and who is trying to come to terms with the dramatic changes in her life.  Then there is Theo, Jess's best friend, who is witness to the crumbling world that Jess inhabits.  Also, we get a glimpse of Anna, and who she is, via excerpts from her private blog (along with reader comments).  The unfolding story is one that leads Jess on a journey of confusion, deceit and despair.

Emotions are a part of all of us.  This novel examines a multitude of these; grief, fear, joy, heartache, uncertainty, love, hate and pain.  A crossover between female fiction and psychological drama, the author brings us into the world of three generations affected by one natural disaster.  While Jess is a mother and grandmother, she is also a woman who is alone.  She has support of Theo and her sister, but still goes to bed alone at night.  Her daughter's secrets are unfolding and she feels herself slipping into darkness.  The pain of her situation is eased briefly by shots of vodka but the loss, combined with alcohol begins to consume her.  Emotions are essential and she is not sure whether to surrender to their pull or mask them.  With alternating chapters we get a glimpse of each character's thread and how they fit into the life, and disappearance, of Anna.

The Day I Lost You is a gut-wrenching tale of motherhood, its related responsibilities and moving on.  Unexpected twists, from the beginning, make this a book that is hard to put down.  You'll want to know more about Anna and will be shoulder to shoulder with Jess as she tries to decode her daughter's life.  A strong set of supporting characters make this a thoroughly enjoyable read, ideal for fans either Me Before You or Girl on the Train...



The Day I Lost You is available in Trade Paperback and ebook format. You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 13% discount, here.   The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below.

I will be featuring a guest post from Fionnuala Kearney, with a copy of The Day I Lost You to giveaway, on Tuesday 16th Feb, so check back in then...


Book Review and Giveaway - "A Time For Friends" by Patricia Scanlan.





As this title is published in paperback on 11th Feb 2016, I have a copy for one luck reader.  To be in with a chance, just enter via rafflecopter link below. The Giveaway is open INT and closes Fri 19th Feb. Good Luck!


Is there ever a right time to break up with your best friend?  
Despite having very different upbringings and backgrounds, Hillary and Colette have been friends forever.  They have watched each other grow up, get married, have kids and while they live in different countries, the friendship has weathered the storm.  
Hillary is the down to earth, hard working woman with a big heart.  A mother of two girls and happily married, she would bend over backwards for her friends and family.
Colette is the wealthy diva, having had everything handed to her on a platter since birth.  Also married, with one daughter, she is not so generous with her time and thinks of herself before anyone else.  
Jonathan is Hillary's new best friend.  A complete breath of fresh air, he is quick to point out the imbalance in the girls relationship and Hillary begins to see how she has been duped by Colette over the years.  But her good heart means she struggles to let go of the friendship.  Until one New Years Day, when a mis-dialled phone call reveals Colette's true nature...

This is basically a tale of three characters, over three decades.  Pre-Celtic Tiger, The Boom Years and The Recession.  Hillary, Colette and Jonathan each have their stories to tell and the spiderweb that links them is what makes this a complete package.  Hillary is a little it too perfect, rarely getting anything wrong (great mother, wife and daughter-in-law, astute business woman, fantastic friend and has good conservative financial sense), whereas Colette is a real Cruella DeVille. (Hard, lacking maternal gene, distant wife and no need to worry about money). She has taken Hillary for granted her whole life and is not about to change now, just because her friend has a new bestie, Jonathan.  He is a flamboyant interior designer with a damaged past but sees the goodness in Hillary.  Unfortunately, he also sees through Colette.  Three becomes a crowd and tensions build.

Patricia Scanlan has done it again.  Another warm and effective character based novel that will envelope you like a cuddle from your favourite Auntie.  She uses throwbacks to the past decades cleverly and the changes in fashion, interior design and even food is a great way of getting the reader to connect with the story.   A look at abuse within the church is a brave move for female fiction in this country and there is no hiding the corrupt politicians either.  The greediness of the Celtic Tiger era is addressed and the only qualm I had was that the big fish didn't really seem to suffer too much from the fallout.  

The Queen of Irish Fiction has still got it and her fans can sit back and relax, as she's delivered another bestseller.

A Time For Friends is published by Simon and Schuster and is available in paperback and ebook format.  





Monday, 8 February 2016

Book Review - "Classic Irish Myths, Legends and Heroes" by Ann Carroll and Derry Dillon



We received a copy of this title, for review purposes, from Poolbeg Books...

Growing up in Ireland, Irish Myths and Legends are a big part of our lives.  From brave warriers to mystical Queens, we are taught of the heroic characters linked to Ireland and that have shaped our heritage, place-names and even our family names.  The Salmon of Knowledge, The Children of Lír and Fionn MacCumhaill are the tales we can recite from memory and that have influenced many a scholar or hurler throughout the centuries.  Stories of St. Patrick, Newgrange and The Giant's Causeway are all factually based, with physical examples still in existence today, making the re-telling of these legends all the more powerful.  However,  for the purposes of this review, I thought I would ask a non-Irish resident for their un-biased opinion.  Librarian, Raquel Ruiz Cecconello, kindly offered to read this title and here are her thoughts:

Guest Review from Raquel Ruiz Cecconello

"What happened to the Children of Lir? How Cúchulainn got his name? Why St. Patrick is the saint of Ireland? What happened in Newgrange? Ireland is full of heroes and myths. Every piece of land tells a story. Learn how they became heroes and how the legends were born.

Six short stories about the most popular heroes, myths and legends of Ireland. Some of the stories are well narrated, others are a little simplistic. The illustrations by Derry Dillon support effectively the narration of the legends."

Ideal for read-aloud sessions with children, or for early readers, this book is sure to be a firm favourite in any household.  Also perfect for the school library or for visiting grandchildren.  I am sure there are plenty of Niamhs, Grainnes and Finns who would be delighted to read about their namesakes...

Classic Irish Myths, Legends and Heroes is published by Poolbeg Books and is available in paperback.  
You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The title can also be ordered via amazon link below:

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Book Review - "Rebel Sisters" by Marita Conlon-McKenna.


I received a copy of this title, via Gill Hess, is return for an honest review...


The Easter Rising, Dublin 1916.  Lives are lost, a city is destroyed and for some the results of that fateful weekend are to linger for the rest of their days.  The Gifford Sisters; Grace, Muriel and Nellie, have been part of something that can never be forgotten.  These women are feisty, independent and strong-willed.  But is their desire for equality and freedom enough?  Will their personal rebellions be their downfall? 
 Based on true stories of the friends and family of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, Marita Conlon-McKenna gives and alternative view to this well discussed period of time in Ireland's History. 

Most of us are familiar with the details of Easter Monday 1916, the main characters involved and their legacies, but not many of us would have a complete picture of the others involved during this period.  The non-political figures, the ordinary people who were (unwittingly or otherwise) a part of creating a new nation, free from British Rule.  This concept is one coming to the foreground in the lead-up to the centenary of this major event.  The newspapers are full of articles celebrating the Rising, TV shows (see Rebellion on RTÉ), are bringing Dublin's History back to life for a whole new generation.  People who have read nothing about the Rising since they were forced to study (a very staid version) as part of their secondary education are now fascinated with the stories.  Children are lucky to have some wonderful fiction titles available to them, all age appropriate and encouraging them to move on to reading about the War of Independence.  But, what about the adult readers? 
 There are literally hundreds of non-fiction titles about this subject, varying from academic tomes to stunning coffee table books (See Diarmuid Ferriter and Shane Hegarty for two of my favourites).  There are also middle of the road, complete fiction titles, with very little historical content and lots of romance instead.  Rebel Sisters is at the more accessible scale.  A factual based story, interlaced with fictional elements, means that readers are getting the best of both book-worlds.
  
The Gifford Sisters were from a large, well appointed, Protestant family and, as children, mixed in very different circles to the Rebels.  However, when Muriel meets Thomas MacDonagh, her life takes a dramatic turn.  Grace meets Joe Plunkett and sees how the passion he feels for his cause is something worth fighting for.  Meanwhile, Nellie feels strongly about equality for all, regardless of sex or religion, and joins Countess Markievicz in the Irish Citizen Army.  Three women, three powerful personalities, ahead of their time and despairing of their country's circumstances.  
What the author has managed to produce is a novel of truth and belief.  Years of research can be seen as the reader turns to the next chapter.  Starting with the Gifford's mother, Isabella, in 1901 we are then brought on the girl's journey through childhood, adolescence and into womanhood.  The people they meet along the way are real.  The city they fight for is real.  The world they foresee for their children and grandchildren is also real.  There are facts aplenty among the titled chapters, with mentions of  1913 Lockout, Erskine Childers' gun-running, Bloody Sunday, the taking of the Dublin Garrisons and the executions at Kilmainham Gaol.  The thing that makes this book more suitable to the mainstream reader, rather than History buffs, are the personal tales.  Learning that one of our Rebel leaders was a roller-skating legend, reading about the many plays being held in various theatres around the city or knowing how much the Gifford girls had to sacrifice to be as devoted as they were; these are the heartbeats of the book.  Mixed in with detailed descriptions of our beautiful city, and how it crumbled over a week of confusion and fear, whilst also being treated to extra locations like Liberty Hall, St.Enda's and Larkfield, means that we can picture the movements of the supporters of the Rebellion.  We can be observers to a great, political and personal movement that helped shape who we are today. And all this without a text book in sight!  

 The gentle prose is trademark Conlon-McKenna, who moved so many of us with her Under The Hawthorn Tree children's books while bringing life to the inmates of the church run institutions in The Magdalen.  
 This is an ideal read for those who want to read more about Ireland's Modern History, but want it in a relaxed and enjoyable way. 
 Perfect for fans of RTÉ's Rebellion...

Rebel Sisters is published by Transworld Ireland and is available in TPB and ebook format.  


Friday, 5 February 2016

"The Fallout" by Margaret Scott. Exclusive cover reveal and Giveaway.



The great thing about living in Ireland is getting to know a lot of the amazing authors who reside here.   I have known Kildare based author, Margaret Scott, for a number of years now and we love nothing better than to browse the bookshelves of Independent book stores, chatting books over coffee and occasionally downing a glass of wine (or two).  Her eagerly anticipated second novel is due for release in April and I am thrilled to be the first to share the cover and blurb.
 Margaret has also supplied a fantastic giveaway to celebrate and calls it the "Lunch is for Wimps" pack.  To be in with a chance of winning the prize, just enter via rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page.  Good Luck!

(Photo courtesy of Ger Holland Photography)

So, book lovers, *insert fanfare*, here is the cover of The Fallout...




The Blurb


International Financial Services Centre, Dublin, 2011.
The dust has barely settled on the banking crisis when two letters arrive in the offices of German Commercial Bank DKB.
Kate O’Brien joined the bank one month earlier after a short break to have her children. Kate doesn’t want stress or drama, she just wants to do her job and go home. But Kate might not be the only one with an agenda.
Mary Lawlor has worked at DKB long enough to be able to see that it’s happening again, and this time she won’t stand for it. She is sick of being taken advantage of and it’s got to stop.
Leona Blake has a job to do and is going to do it no matter what the cost. Only now, as her whole world starts to implode does she finally realise that the price just might have been too high.
Olivia Sharpe is finally writing things down. Now is her chance to take control of her life again and get closure for both herself and her children. What happened to her was wrong and someone needs to pay. Don’t they?

Two Letters
Four lives.  
It’s time to take sides.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Margaret Scott lives in Kildare with her husband Keith Darcy, two little girls Isabelle & Emily, one year old Michael and assortment of pets.
An accountant by day, her first book ‘Between You and Me’ was published by Poolbeg Press in 2013 and enjoyed several weeks in the ROI top ten Bestsellers List.




The Fallout is published by Poolbeg Books on 1st April 2016 and will be available in trade paperback and ebook format.

This "Lunch Is For Wimps" prize pack is up for grabs, for one lucky reader. Open INT.


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Blog Tour - "Behind Closed Doors" by BA Paris. Exclusive Extract and Giveaway.




I am delighted to be part of the blogtour for Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris.  I was fortunate enough to read a very early edition of this psychological thriller and devoured it!  This genre has exploded beyond all expectations recently and this debut novel deserves its place among the bestsellers hogging the bookshelves worldwide.

I have an exclusive extract for you to read and think you will be mightily impressed.  You can also read my review of Behind Closed Doors here

To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of this title, just enter via rafflecopter link below...

You can also join in the twitter vibe using #StaySingle



The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
The debut psychological thriller you can’t miss!
‘Brilliant, chilling, scary and unputdownable.’
-Lesley Pearse, bestselling author of Without a Trace

‘Behind Closed Doors gives us a glimpse into the realities of a ‘perfect marriage’, with addictive and heart pounding moments guaranteed to have you looking at your friends and neighbours differently.’
-Margaret Madden, Bleach House Library



Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

EXTRACT


Present
‘I’m looking for my husband. Have you seen him anywhere?’
‘Yes, he came down about an hour ago, not long after you checked in.’
‘Do you know where he went? Did he go to the bar, by any chance?’
He shook his head. ‘He went out through the front doors. I presumed he was going to fetch something from the car.’
‘Did you see him come back in?’
‘Now that you mention it, no, I didn’t. But I was busy checking in another client at one point, so it could be that I didn’t see him.’ He eyed the phone in my hand. ‘Have you tried phoning him?’
‘Yes, but his mobile’s switched off. He’s probably in the bar, drowning his sorrows that he’s now a married man.’ I smiled, trying to make light of it. ‘I’ll go and have a look.’
I made my way to the bar but there was no sign of Jack. I checked the various lounges, the fitness room and the swimming pool. On the way to check the two restaurants, I left another message on his voicemail, my voice breaking with anxiety.
‘No luck?’ The receptionist gave me a sympathetic look as I arrived back in the lobby on my own. I shook my head.
‘I’m afraid I can’t find him anywhere.’
‘Have you looked if your car is still in the car park? At least you’d know whether or not he’d left the hotel.’ I went out through the front doors and followed the path round to the car park at the back of the hotel. The car wasn’t where Jack had left it nor was it anywhere else. Not wanting to go back through the lobby and face the receptionist again, I went in through the back door and ran up the stairs to the bedroom, praying that I would find Jack already there, that he would have arrived back while I’d been out looking for him. When I found the bedroom empty, I burst into tears of frustration. I told myself that the fact the car was missing went someway to explaining why he hadn’t answered his phone, because he never answered his phone while he was driving. But if he’d had to go back to the office on urgent business, why hadn’t he knocked on the bathroom door and told me? And if he hadn’t wanted to disturb me in my bath, why hadn’t he at least left me a note?
Increasingly worried, I dialled his number and left a tearful message saying that if I didn’t hear from him within the next ten minutes I was going to phone the police. I knew that the police would be my last port of call, that before phoning them I would phone Adam, but I hoped that in mentioning the police Jack would realise just how worried I was.
They were the longest ten minutes of my life. Then, just as I was about to call Adam, my phone beeped, telling me I’d received a text message. Letting out a shaky sigh of relief, I opened it and when I saw that it was from Jack, tears of relief fell from my eyes, making it impossible to read what he had written. But it didn’t matter because I knew what it would say, I knew it would say that he’d been called away unexpectedly, that he was sorry I’d been worried but that he hadn’t been able to answer his phone because he’d been in a meeting, that he’d be back soon and that he loved me.
I reached for a tissue from the box on the desk, wiped my eyes, blew my nose and looked at the message again. ‘Don’t be so hysterical, it doesn’t suit you. Something’s come up, I’ll see you in the morning.’
Stunned, I sat down on the bed, reading the message over and over again, convinced I had misunderstood it in some way. I couldn’t believe that Jack would have written something so cruel or been so cutting. He had never spoken to me in such a way before, he had never even raised his voice to me. I felt as if I’d been slapped in the face. And why wouldn’t he be back until the following morning?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


B A Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working in Finance before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. This is her first novel.

Follow BA on Twitter @BAParisAuthor

Behind Closed Doors is published by MIRA on 11 Feb 2016 in paperback and ebook format...





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