Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Available Now: Moment of Truth by Joan Fleming

The Rowanbrae Series
Joan Fleming



99c/p through 17 February
FREE on Kindle Unlimited
Local Rowanbrae school teacher and lady captain of the golf club, Mandy Campbell strives for equal status in a male-dominated club. She knows it won't be an easy task, but to succeed, she must work with local businessman and gents' captain, Gavin Simpson.

Despite their rivalry, Mandy finds herself softening toward Gavin. At times, he seems to return her attention and she feels there might be something special between them. But suddenly and for no apparent reason, Gavin withdraws from her.

Her troubles increase as Mandy feels responsible when her mother turns to alcohol to cope with the loss of her husband. And when Roxanne Sutherland, mother of a sixteen-year-old student, Tessa, threatens to take legal action against the school, accusing the staff of encouraging Tessa to leave school to marry her boyfriend, Mandy considers leaving Rowanbrae to regain the peace in her life.

Can Mandy grow her relationship with Gavin, and will things settle in Rowanbrae, or will she have to leave to find the peace she craves?

• • •

‘Come on then, Mandy. Show us how it’s done.’

The mocking tone made it clear that Gavin Simpson was expecting Mandy’s first stroke in the golf match to be less than spectacular. Looking around at the crowd gathered at the first tee at Shieling Golf Club, he smiled. Clearly, he wasn’t the only man who felt that way.

Normally, Mandy Campbell would have responded to the challenge with gusto, confident in her ability to play the game well. Today, however, her stomach churned. For the twenty-nine-year-old Lady Captain of the club–one of the youngest in its history–this was the single moment she dreaded most in her period of office: the Captains’ demonstration game on Centenary Saturday. What if she made a fool of herself in front of the crowds of members and guests who had gathered for the celebration marking the 100th birthday of the club?

Mandy knew Gents Captain Gavin Simpson would be playing to the gallery, convinced of his ability to shine at her expense.
‘Well, we’ll see,’ she muttered.

‘What was that?’ Gavin asked.

‘Nothing. Just my mantra for a successful round.’ She knew her broad smile would fail to reach her eyes.

‘Good game,’ she said, loud enough for the spectators to hear.

‘Er… good game,’ he replied.

In the Central Scotland village of Rowanbrae, some thirty miles from Glasgow, the golf club provided first-class facilities, but was also a venue for social activities. Members and guests met there to attend dinners, dances, and meetings of all descriptions. Many in Rowanbrae had held their breath as the local council, at their last meeting, had considered a proposal to purchase the golf course and build much-needed houses on the site for the expanding population of the community. The golf club members had breathed a sigh of relief when the council rejected the application.

On this important day, they could not have wished for better weather: the thin mist obscuring the distant hills would evaporate soon in the heat of the day. The course looked as if an artist had painted it–the long fairways, undulating like low sand dunes, their green made more intense by the heavy rainfall of the area. In places shadowed from the sun, a light dew lingered, silvering the surface of the grass, adding contrast to the picture.

The golf course was in perfect condition, thanks to the dedication of the head greenkeeper. All Mandy had to do now was send the ball as far as she could down the centre of the first fairway. She’d done it hundreds of times before, so why worry? It was Gavin Simpson’s remark that had raised her tension level. Gavin–the Captain. The Captain. Mandy was the Lady Captain–and was reminded of her inferior status at every opportunity.

She swung her club. The ball arced straight down the middle of the fairway, high and fast, to land in a perfect position for her second shot. With a gesture of exaggerated courtesy, she invited Gavin onto the first tee.

‘Your turn,’ she said.

As expected, Gavin’s ball went further than Mandy’s, but veered to the right and slithered into the rough–the long grass at the edge of the fairway. Good. You’ll have some difficulty getting your ball out from there, she thought.

‘Well done!’ Mandy said, smiling smugly as she joined in the applause. ‘Could be a bit tricky to get out of the rough, though,’ she added for his ears only. Had she injected a little too much syrup into her tone? She didn’t really want to humiliate Gavin on this of all days; on the other hand, she wasn’t prepared to allow him to belittle her. Since embarking on her captaincy, she had been striving to rid the club of its gender bias. Now in her second year, she knew that time was running out. Perhaps male chauvinism would not disappear from Shieling Golf Club, but she would continue to do her level best to fight it.

• • •

Joan Fleming was born and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland. After university there, she became a teacher of French and German for a short period in the London area, then in the West of Scotland.

Since leaving education, she now concentrates on creative writing. She has had short stories and articles published in magazines in both the UK and America, and has won a number of awards for her writing.

Joan is a member of Erskine Writers, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.

Her interests include: reading, walking, travel, islands (anywhere!) and the life and work of Robert Burns.

She now lives in a flat on the outskirts of Glasgow overlooking the West Highland Way.

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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Available Now: Unspoken by Dianne Noble

Dianne Noble



99c/p through 10 February
FREE on Kindle Unlimited
While on holiday in Sri Lanka, Sarah Latimer meets the charismatic Greg. When he rescues her from a fire, she is unsure if her growing attachment to him is love or indebtedness.

Sarah befriends Ruth and takes a room in her dilapidated guesthouse, and quickly becomes aware of the brutality Ruth suffers at the hands of her husband. Sarah decides to help, ignorant of the dark secrets which have long been simmering beneath the surface of her own life.

When Sarah receives devastating news from England about her son, Tom, she agonises over whether or not to fly home, but a shocking act of violence eclipses everything and she finds herself driven to take action in a way that horrifies her.

• • •

November 9th. The day the central heating broke. The day Sarah Latimer decided to leave Lyme Regis behind and spend the winter in Sri Lanka.

She watched sheets of water sluice down the window—hated November, when daylight battled to find space between the nights. After the children left home, she and William always flew somewhere hot at this time of year. Her heart twisted as she remembered. For the first five years after he’d gone, the bricks and mortar were so saturated with memories of him she almost sold the house. She was glad now she hadn’t, even though she still felt like an untethered boat drifting and bumping aimlessly about.

She contacted the central heating engineer, then phoned her son, Tom, and told him of her plans.

There was a long pause. ‘Mum…have you thought this through? It might stop raining soon.’

‘It’s not just that, Tom. It’s time I did something. Next year’s the big five-oh and…’

‘You’re not going on your own?’ He sounded alarmed. ‘I know you’ve been all over India, but that was with Dad.’

‘I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.’

‘Where will you stay?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve only just decided to go.’

‘What did Jen say?’

‘She doesn’t know yet. Everything all right with you, Tom?’

There was a pause. He swallowed. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thanks. Got to go, Mum, sorry. Keep me posted.’

Frowning, she put the phone down. What wasn’t he saying? She wrapped her cardigan more tightly around herself, her confidence beginning to ebb. Maybe her plans were a bit ambitious, after all—she’d never travelled anywhere on her own before.

There was no reply from Jen’s phone so she left a message asking her to call back, then set up her laptop on the kitchen table. While she waited for a connection—always slow here—she considered where to head for. The capital, Colombo? Or Galle with its Dutch buildings? What about one of the hill stations amid the tea plantations? A ripple of excitement ran through her.

The door flew open and a small body swathed in yellow oilskins came into the kitchen in a burst of wind and raindrops. Lily. A warm glow filled her. Whatever would she have done without her these past few years?

‘Morning, best friend.’ Lily beamed at her as she struggled out of her waterproofs then left them in a sodden heap on the doormat. ‘What’s new?’ She tested the temperature of the kettle with the back of her hand and reached up to take two mugs from the shelf.

‘Funny you should ask. I’m thinking of going to Sri Lanka for the winter.’

‘Where?’ She stopped, hand and mugs in mid-air. ‘Why?’

‘Well the boiler’s playing up and—’

‘A buggered boiler is not a reason to—’

‘And it’s rained every day for the last seventeen.’

‘You’re serious.’

She made the coffee and brought it over. ‘Yes. Well…I think so.’ The chair screeched as she pulled it out and sat down.

‘Good for you.’ Lily squeezed her hand. ‘About time you started living again.’

‘I’m a bit scared,’ she whispered.

‘You’ll be fine.’

‘I wish you could come with me.’

‘I wish I could, too. What bliss that would be—but you know what it’s like in my place, never more than two steps away from financial disaster.’

‘You don’t think I’m mad?’

‘I do not.’ She pulled her chair closer. ‘Right, show me where you’re going.’

Sarah clicked on a tourism site and Lily squealed, clutched her arm. ‘Will you just look at that sand, those palm trees?’

She pursed her lips. ‘I’m not really a beach person.’

Lily sat back and stared at her. ‘Aren’t you? I thought everyone was. Imagine stretching out on a sunbed sipping a rum punch—or whatever they drink in Sri Lanka.’

Heat blazed in her cheeks. ‘I’m just…I’m not too comfortable getting my kit off…’

‘Are you mad? Bet you look sensational. Wish I had half your chest—I’ve got no tits at all. What did the kids say?’

‘I couldn’t get hold of Jen. I told Tom and he sounded worried.’

‘He’ll get over it. You staying in a hotel or will you rent somewhere?’

‘Don’t know…’

‘What about flights? Let’s look at flights.’

After almost an hour of poring over one site after another, Lily heaved herself to her feet with obvious reluctance. ‘Got to go. Beds to make, rooms to clean.’ Zipping herself into her waterproofs, she pulled a face. ‘Hate to ask you again, but any chance you could help me with breakfast tomorrow?’

‘Don’t be daft, it’s my pleasure. I enjoy it.’

‘Seem to be asking you quite a lot recently.’

Sarah hugged her, felt her thinness under the cold, damp of the oilskins. ‘It’s not a problem, really it’s not. Anyhow, if…when I go shooting off, I’ll need you to keep an eye on the house for me.’

The wind fought Lily for the door, and after it had slammed behind her the room echoed with silence. Sarah watched her friend run up the path then switched on the kettle for more coffee, shivering a little. She looked around the kitchen, absorbing its familiarity: the blue, checked curtains, the white enamel jug containing utensils, the potato masher with its split wooden handle. Did she really want to leave all this to travel halfway across the world? She knew her limitations, liked routines, not surprises.

• • •

Dianne Noble was on a troopship sailing for Singapore at the age of seven and hasn’t stopped travelling since. Her last trip was to Moscow but her favourite place remains India. The atmospheric settings of her novels reflect her experiences.

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