Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents.
Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun. Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.
As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm.
A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerges, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too…
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2Ul2evq
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK!
Friday evening and I could almost taste the gin and tonic waiting for me as I dragged the carrier bags of shopping up to my flat on the second floor. Wincing as the plastic cut into both hands, I dumped the bags onto the floor with relief and had a good scrabble round in my shoulder bag for the door key. Dominic always laughed at what regularly surfaced from the depths of the Tardis: sketches and notes for the new designs I was working on, fabric and flooring samples, an over-ripe banana and the usual make-up and Oyster card.
What the hell was wrong with the key? I peered at it, scrutinising the tarnished metal before attempting to ram it once more into the Yale lock of the flat door.
No go. Bugger. Had I got the wrong key? No, it was the one I always used: the key Dominic had fastened onto my bunch when he’d suggested we make our relationship rather more permanent. I’d been over the moon – more than happy to leave the cramped flat I shared in Bayswater with a rather strange girl from Lancashire who very rarely socialised, and who thought a good night’s entertainment consisted of the sofa pulled up in front of Strictly while making her way stolidly through an entire half-pound tub of Philadelphia cream cheese.
It was definitely the right key. I peered again, turned it over and tried again. Nope. Had I bent it, put it out of service somehow earlier in the day when my bag had collided with that cyclist on the Old Kent Road as I rushed, late as usual, for an initial consultation on this morning’s new job? I rubbed tentatively at my leg where the bike’s front wheel had caught my foot as I stepped onto the zebra crossing, flooring me physically while its owner had attempted to do the same mentally, pouring vitriol onto my head as I lay, speechless in the road.
‘Having problems?’ A tall, very attractive blonde appeared at my side and I started at her words.
‘Yes, the damned lock appears to be jammed. I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with it…’
The woman, older than me but far more glamorous, scrutinised me carefully, taking in every aspect of my sweating face and, after an afternoon on a building site, my creased and dusty jeans, denim jacket and scuffed heavy-duty boots.
She smiled. ‘Here. Try this one. I think you’ll have more success.’
‘Sorry?’ I took a step away from my front door, tripped over the bags of shopping and looked at the woman full on as she stood, eyebrows raised, offering me the key. ‘So, what are you?’ I laughed. ‘The fairy godmother of knackered keys?’
‘Gosh, no, nothing as imaginative as that.’ She smiled again. ‘How about the gullible wife of a cheating bastard husband?’
‘Aw, that’s awful for you. I’m so sorry. And didn’t you know?’
‘I do now.’ She was no longer smiling. ‘Look, are you being deliberately obtuse or are you just thick?’ She tutted, brushed past me and inserted her key into my door. ‘Your stuff’s all packed up. I’d like you out in ten minutes: the estate agent will be here to value the place…’ she scrutinised her little gold wrist watch, ‘… in half an hour.’
Five black bin bags, the sum total, it appeared, of my life, were heaped in disarray in the tiny hallway. My heart revved uncomfortably and I felt a trickle of sweat start under my arms. Surreptitiously wiping the film of moisture from my top lip, I pushed the stray lock of hair that regularly went AWOL from my one plait and searched in the depths of the Tardis for my phone.
‘It’s no good ringing him,’ the woman said. ‘Dom knows I’ve found out.’
I ignored her, immediately finding Dominic’s number, and pressed the usual button. ‘This is my flat,’ I snapped, glaring at her as I waited for Dominic to answer. ‘I share the rent, I pay the bills. I pay my bloody way.’
Three little beeps on my phone heralded an unrecognised number. I tried again.
‘My flat,’ she countered. ‘Every bit of it, mine. Bought for me by my father for my twenty-first birthday.’ She actually laughed. ‘I would imagine the money you gave to Dom each month went straight into his children’s pockets for spending money. You know: little treats, trips to the cinema. Good old dad. I bet he always insisted you pay your share in cash…’
‘He’s got children?’ I stared at her. ‘Dominic’s got children?’
‘Three. And, if you still haven’t worked it out, one very alive, still very married wife. Me.’
‘He told me he was divorced.’
‘And I suppose he also told you, on the nights and weekends he wasn’t with you that he was in the Manchester or Paris office? You’ve been had, darling. He has a very much alive and extremely kicking wife as well as three kids away at school to support and pay for.’
‘You can’t do this!’ I shouted, but one look at her calm features and I saw that she jolly well could do it. And had.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle #1 bestseller.
She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.