Friday, August 4, 2017

Excerpt: The Summer of Second Chances

Lottie is about to discover that even when you think you’ve lost everything, hope and romance can be just around the corner . . .

It takes time to build your life. To get into a long-term (OK, a bit boring) relationship. To find a job (you don’t completely hate). Lottie might not be thrilled with the life she’s put together, but it’s the one she’s got.

So when in the course of one terrible evening, it all comes crashing down around her, Lottie has a choice: give herself over to grief at being broke, single and completely lacking in prospects.

Or, brick by brick, build herself a new life. And this time, with a little help from friends, a crumbling cottage in Devon and a handsome stranger, maybe she can make it the one she always wanted.

The Summer of Second Chances is an irresistibly funny read about never giving up, whatever the world throws at you. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Jane Costello and Christie Barlow. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

From Chapter Two:

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It really wasn’t.
Nine years ago I’d finished my English Masters degree and taken a sort of late gap year working for the local paper as gofer while I wrote my ‘bestselling novel’. I had been filling in for someone one lunch hour, selling advertising space, and Ian had come into the office to place an ad for his company; Lovell Kitchens. He had amused me so much that I had agreed to go for dinner with him that evening. He’d then charmed me into meeting for a picnic the following day, then into a relationship, and after six months much to his mother’s annoyance I moved in with him.
By the time that happened, my gap year had become two years and looked as though it was turning into a career choice. Ten years older than me, Ian had seemed handsome, sophisticated, funny and charismatic. We had wanted the same things, we enjoyed similar tastes, and he had made me laugh back then. I’d been very lucky. When my university friends started complaining about trying to save a deposit for their first house, I just walked into one.
Ian worked hard, the years had been good to us, and we had a lovely home. Five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a fabulous hand-built kitchen with every possible gadget, and a wood-panelled study for Ian. I’d discovered a talent for interior décor and had brought new style and colour to the house, all paid for by Ian’s generous hand. Even in the middle of winter the half-acre of manicured gardens were neat and attractive, mostly thanks to the attention of our gardener. Much to Susan’s disgust we’d never married but we enjoyed our lives together. Ian was a generous host and I was a good cook. We’d had some marvellous parties when we first met.
In the past couple of years I suppose we’d just got a bit out of practice, with Ian away so much on business. And for want of something else to do, I’d recently gone back to part-time work. Not for the money, but because I was bored. There are only so many times you can decorate a house and move the furniture round.
We’d made lots of friends who included us in their busy circle of golf, fussy dinner parties and meaningless celebrations. Most of the men were more Ian’s age than mine, and many were involved in property development or building, but I was cultivating a group of my own too. Younger second wives and girlfriends keen to shop and have fun and go on spa breaks. Spa breaks! Wouldn’t that be nice now? And best of all, Jess had moved into our village, a sparky high-maintenance blonde with a taste for heels and spray tans and a laugh like Barbara Windsor. We’d instantly recognised a kindred spirit in each other even if I could never rival her for glamour. She was married to Greg, a meaty-looking man, and last year they had returned from several years living in Spain and bought The Grange, the biggest house for miles. Ian had nearly had kittens with his excitement.
After I was sure that Bryn was staying indoors, I found my handbag, took my cigarettes out to the garden and lit one. Always one to conform, I knew I shouldn’t smoke in someone else’s house; not that it would have mattered under the circumstances.
I felt giddy for a moment; perhaps it was the nicotine. I went to brush some dead leaves off one of the garden chairs near the back door and sat down. It wasn’t fair, none of this was my fault, was it? And yet here I was, on my own, miles from anywhere, looking into a future that was uncertain to say the least.
I shook myself; self-pity had no place here, I was going to have to buck up my ideas. I couldn’t treat having a job as an antidote to boredom any longer. I couldn’t rely on Ian’s seemingly bottomless wallet or acquaintances that had bought me flowers and sent cards when it all happened but now shied away from me in case my bad fortune rubbed off on them.
I walked down to the end of the garden through the thick, neglected grass and tried to see if there was anything apart from rubbish and weeds. A bank of nettles had taken over one of the borders. Something else that I think was honeysuckle was curling bare tendrils around a dirty and unpainted wooden lattice. It was a mess. Perhaps I could do something out here when I had a moment? Perhaps there was more under the rich red soil than was apparent. I went back into the house and picked up all the junk mail that had stacked behind the front door. Nothing to do with pizza delivery or takeaway menus, I noticed. Leaflets about hedge cutting, the local parish magazine, details of refuse collection, a flyer from the local feed merchant telling me about special offers on hen coops and wire netting. Perhaps I would have some chickens.


Janine said...

This sounds like my kind of book.

Maddie said...

Hi Janine, I hope you read and enjoy Summer of Second Chances! I have a son living in Houston! Love Texas!

Janine said...

I hope your son is enjoying Houston. It's hot down there, but there is so much to do. My favorite thing is to go to Galveston (just a short drive).