I am thrilled to take part in the book tour for Recon – The Expansion 1 by the exciting fiction author Devon C. Ford. The tour is being run by Love Book Tours and I highly recommend it to you. Today, enjoy an intriguing excerpt from this gripping new book.
The universe is expanding, and so is humanity’s reach.
Years after clean energy ended the world’s reliance on fossil fuels, a lull of peace encompasses all of humanity. Some think we should travel to the distant corners of the galaxy, others oppose the idea, thinking that the harnessed singularity reactors are unnatural.
When a terrorist group attacks the Lunar colony, members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force are affected in different ways.
Years later, Lieutenant Commander Kyle Torres comes face to face with old friends, as he’s thrown into an assignment that could change everything: a reconnaissance mission with huge implications for humanity and science.
Start the epic journey as Earth begins its venture into deep space, where not everything is as it seems. From Devon C Ford, the best-selling author of the hit Post-Apocalyptic series, After It Happened.
Lunar Arrivals Port
“What was that?” Jake Santana asked, his ears pricking up and his brow knitted.
“What was what?” Jamie Paterson answered. His head was half-buried in a shipping container full of machine parts.
“I heard it too,” the young ensign, Kyle Torres said ominously. “It sounded like it came from the arrivals area. Come on.”
The three of them walked out of the freight hangar, where the pilot and crew of the detained ship were waving their arms and shouting about their rights being infringed. Jake and the others ignored them, hearing more sounds that made their spines tingle.
“Something ain’t right,” Jake said. His left hand dropped to the service pistol holstered on his thigh and hovered there. The standing orders not to draw a weapon unless fired upon echoed around his skull. He didn’t draw it, but he kept that hand on the grip, which made him swing the other arm awkwardly as he ran. They rounded a corner, hearing shouts of alarm interspersed with gunfire, then put their heads down and ran the two-hundred-meter length of the tunnel separating them from the main part of the lunar space port.
“Alpha one from alpha one three,” Torres squeaked into his radio mic, the panic making his voice sound younger and more vulnerable than he already was.
Jamie looked to him, and received a shake of the head when no answer came. Jamie tried his own radio, shouting the hail louder and more firmly than Torres had done. He repeated the call, but heard nothing back.
As they neared the end of the tunnel, all three breathing heavily from the run, Jake decided to complete the trifecta and try his own radio.
“Alpha one fr—”
A scream tore the air, a person bellowing in guttural pain or anger, followed by the high-pitched, chattering thrum of automatic gunfire.
Their radios erupted as one and the gravelly sound of their commanding officer’s voice filled their minds.
“All hands, this is Commander Dassiova. Lunar Port is under attack. I say again, we are under attack. All hands: battle stations. All hands: battle stations.”
The warning sobered everyone who heard it. Jake, Torres and Jamie all drew their sidearms and stacked up against the wall at the corner before Jake nodded and stepped out with his gun raised. Another metallic chatter of rapid-fire rounds answered his movement, shattering the tiles of the wall and punching holes through the cover where his head had been only moments before.
“One shooter,” he said, gasping for breath among the dust. “Automatic weapon. Thirty meters.”
“Draw fire,” Torres said, his voice rising in the panic.
“No,” Jake snapped. “Keep your head down.”
“We need to move, Seaman,” Ensign Torres said, a hint of sudden fire in his words.
“The wheel’s right,” Jamie said as he mocked the young officer. “We’re pinned down here, and that rifle will puncture the dome if we don’t take him out soon.”
Jake thought about it, his mouth set into a thin line as he considered what he had to do. He didn’t like it one bit.
“You two break for cover over there,” he said as he pointed across the wide tunnel intersection. “I’ll take the shot.”
They took off, running low and fast and holding their breath for the few seconds it took for the shooter to dial in their location. The gun sounded again, plumes of debris erupting behind the two runners and growing dangerously close to their heels as they darted across the space. Jake took a breath and stepped out. His gun was up, sighting along the barrel held steady in both hands to where the shooter had been. He squeezed off five fast rounds.
The chattering gunfire stopped abruptly as the shooter fell to the ground. Jake took two long breaths, staring at the body of the first person he had killed up close. After a beat, he started toward him.
When he was ten paces away the body blossomed in slow-motion, expanding outward in flame as the explosives strapped to his chest detonated. It was only a small charge, but it was enough to blow the body apart and fling the twisted remains of the automatic rifle past Jake’s head. The velocity would have killed him if he had been just a pace to his left. The other two caught up with him. Jamie said nothing, but Ensign Torres looked ashen. Jake steeled himself and took off at a dead run toward the sound of more gunfire and screams.
Devon C. Ford spent a career in public services undertaking many roles until he took up writing and editing full time in 2016.
After It Happened throws a different spin on the collapse of society being set in the UK. Sequels to this series were announced for 2018.
Other works include a futuristic dystopian setting in the Defiance series, WW3 post-apocalyptic in The Fall, 1980’s genre Zombie apocalypse in Toy Soldiers and New Earth: ARC; a sci-fi/post apoc story. Late 2018 saw the launch of a military sci-fi series, Expansion. 2020 saw the launch of collaborative projects including the hit alien invasion/post-apocalyptic crossover series, Rise.
Erin Kelly is not only one of my favourite authors but she is most generous with her time and expertise. I met her first at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School a few years ago and have always appreciated the time she took to explain the strengths and weaknesses of the opening of the early draft of my debut novel, Hunter’s Chase. She has been unswervingly supportive of my own writing career ever since. Therefore it was with some excitement that I began her most recent novel, We Know/You Know.
A lifetime ago, a patient escaped Nazareth mental asylum. They covered their tracks carefully. Or so they thought.
Thirty years ago, Marianne Smy committed a crime then fled from her home to leave the past behind. Or so she thought.
Now, Marianne has been forced to return. Nazareth asylum has been converted to luxury flats, but its terrible hold on her is still strong. A successful academic, a loving mother and a loyal wife, she fears her secret being revealed and her world shattering.
She is right to be scared.
This novel was previously published as Stone Mothers in hardback, but We Know/You Know is a far better title. There is no doubt that Kelly is one of the best writers in the psychological thriller genre and this new novel is particularly captivating and cleverly constructed story where the lives of three very different people are inextricably interlinked with a local mental asylum which has closed leaving them with a combination of memories, guilt and ghosts.
I found We Know You Know gripping and as it carries the reader back through time, Kelly revealed twists I did not see coming. The author delivers shocks and suspense throughout the story and the book concludes with a satisfying ending from a master of thriller writing. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to those who enjoy thrillers, mysteries and psychological novels. We Know/You Know is another fabulous novel from a master author.
I’m best known for He Said/She Said, about a young couple who witness a rape and, after the trial, begin to wonder if they believed the right person. My first novel, The Poison Tree, was a Richard and Judy bestseller and a major ITV drama starring Myanna Buring, Ophelia Lovibond and Matthew Goode. I’ve written four more original psychological thrillers – The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind.
I had read scores of psychological thrillers before I heard the term: the books that inspired me to write my own included Endless Night by Agatha Christie, The Secret History by Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine. My books are atmospheric thrillers, always about people trying to atone for, escape, or uncover a past crime. I’m more interested in what happens before the police arrive – if arrive they ever do – than how murder is solved.
It is a real pleasure to take part in the blog tour for Dancing with Thieves, the book by Cally Magalhães @malcolmdown and run by Love Books Group @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours.
Cally Magalhães’ memoir is a gripping page-turner of an autobiography. With a novelist’s eye for descriptive detail, Cally invites us to accompany her on her astonishing journey from England to India and Estonia, and finally to São Paulo, Brazil.
We join her as she follows a trail of signs and blessings to bring relief, hope and healing to people who need help, wherever they may be — in the streets, the favelas, the prisons or hidden under bridges.
She describes in moving detail the transformational work of The Eagle Project, using psychodrama and Restorative Justice in Brazilian prisons.
To read this book is to be inspired by the positive change one person can bring to so many individual lives – changing the world one person at a time.
Cally has much to teach us about being fully present for all of life’s events and challenges.
With hard-won wisdom and deep reflection, she describes a life based on faith and gratitude, encapsulated in her ringing sentence, ‘When you help people who have nothing, then you realise you have everything.’
Her memoir has lessons for us all about what it means to walk the Earth with grace and love.
Dancing With Thieves by Magalhães, Cally was published by Sarah Grace Publishing in October 2020
From Chapter 1 The Frist Day
Life is cheap in Brazil. Tens of thousands of adults, teenagers and children are murdered every year. I became aware of this sad truth on my first visit to São Paulo in 1998.
I arrived at the airport and was taken straight to the favela (the Portuguese name for slum). I had been told this would be my home for the next month, but I soon discovered the plans had changed. The director of the project greeted me, Brazilian-style, with a warm, friendly hug.
‘Welcome, Cally,’ she said. ‘We’re so glad you’ve arrived. However, I’m so sorry to tell you, but you can’t stay here after all. Something terrible happened here last night. It’s just too dangerous.’
Maribel had a kind face, and a gentle voice. Her eyes were red, and it was obvious that she’d been crying. I could tell she was shaken and upset, and I didn’t know what to say.
I looked around me. Everything seemed ‘normal’. There was a low building on one side of the courtyard with classrooms and a kitchen. The church building was on the other side, and a large space in- between where about fifty children were playing.
Two boys raced past me, nearly knocking me over in their haste. Their eyes were fixed on the battered old kite they were desperately trying to keep in the air. One held the string, and the other ran behind, laughing and trying to grab the kite for himself. The kite dipped, and then soared again just as they passed by me, the boys shrieking with delight.
A group of children of all ages kicked an old, half-inflated football around the courtyard. The game seemed highly competitive as they scampered barefoot in the dust and dirt. Teenage girls in skimpy shorts and low-cut T-shirts huddled in groups. They giggled at the teenage boys playing dominoes at an old wooden table nearby.
I wondered what could have happened the night before. Something so terrible it wasn’t safe to stay there anymore? The sun was hot in the bright blue sky, and my arms and neck were beginning to burn.
I inhaled slowly, and the smell of freshly baked bread wafted across the courtyard from the project kitchen. At the same time, I felt quite sick from the stench of rotting rubbish outside the courtyard wall. Sweat dripped down my face, and my mouth was dry with thirst.
I looked at Diana, the young Brazilian woman who had picked me up at the airport. She was crying, and wiping her eyes with a hanky. I felt desperate to know what had happened, and then she explained.
‘Just behind that wall,’ she whispered, pointing to the wall behind me that divided the favela from the project courtyard, ‘five teenagers were murdered last night. They owed money to the drug traffickers, and when they couldn’t pay, they killed them.’
I stood there in shock, not knowing what to do or say.
Cally Magalhaes is the co-founder and director of The Eagle Project, Sao Paulo, Brazil, working with youth offenders and adult prisoners. Born in Harpenden, England, she trained as a dancer and then became a professional actress, and drama teacher. She moved to Sao Paulo in 1999, to work with street children, and has developed pioneering work using psychodrama, and the theories of Restorative Justice.
I have read several books by Khaled Hosseini including The Kite Runner and A Thousand Yellow Suns. The latter is also reviewed on this site. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini | Val Penny’s Book Reviews (bookreviewstoday.info) I thoroughly enjoyed the earlier novels and was looking forward to reading And The Mountains Echoed.
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.
I enjoyed the beginning of this novel very much indeed. However, in the middle I felt it began to wander. After the death of Nabi, the story became increasingly unrealistic and unfocussed. It regained some focus when we met Abdullah but wandered further when the author took the reader down the background story of Markos and Thalia. I appreciate this is a clever story, but the author’s display of his cleverness spoiled the story for me. It was too rambling and disjointed to make for a good read and this bitterly disappointed me as I had so enjoyed his previous novels.
I regret that And The Mountains Echoed was such a disappointment to me that I doubt I would read any further novels by this author.
Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. In 1970 Hosseini and his family moved to Iran where his father worked for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tehran. In 1973 Hosseini’s family returned to Kabul, and Hosseini’s youngest brother was born in July of that year.
In 1976, when Hosseini was 11 years old, Hosseini’s father obtained a job in Paris, France, and moved the family there. They were unable to return to Afghanistan because of the Saur Revolution in which the PDPA communist party seized power through a bloody coup in April 1978. Instead, a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in 1980 they sought political asylum in the United States and made their residence in San Jose, California.
Hosseini graduated from Independence High School in San Jose in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. in 1993. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in 1996. He practiced medicine for over ten years, until a year and a half after the release of The Kite Runner.
Hosseini is currently a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for the foundation was inspired by the trip to Afghanistan that Hosseini made in 2007 with UNHCR.
He lives in Northern California with his wife, Roya, and their two children (Harris and Farah).
I am pleased to host Debi Chestnut @DebiChestnut1 today on the blog tour for her new book, Bad Karma published by Cayelle Publishing @CayellePub and run by Love Books Group Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours. You can follow the tour here.
ZOEY CALLAWAY is an introverted Information Professional, content with her cramped apartment above her mother’s garage. She’s a simple person with a simple life until murder shatters her small town of Hope Harbor, Michigan.
When Zoey’s uncle is found dead in his bathtub, police think it’s an accidental overdose, but circumstances tell Zoey a different story. After inheriting her deceased uncle’s home and black kitten, she moves in and catalogues his belongings, inadvertently piecing together clues to solve a crime her uncle had stumbled upon before his death. With a stalker following her every move, Zoey calls upon all her investigative skills to identify the killer before she becomes the next victim.
It wasn’t even nine a.m. and I was already having a bad day. I was working on Project Shadow for the FBI. Suspected human traffickers. I shook my head. What some people won’t do for money! The FBI occasionally hires freelance information professional like me to dig into the lives of “persons of interest” as they call it when they need to circumvent the law – and they pay extremely well .
Anyway, the database I needed to complete the project was down and my call to tech support was a waste of time. I wound up talking to some guy on the other side of the planet named Pardeep. He was pleasant enough, and his English quite intelligible. He tried to help, but in the end he couldn’t fix the problem, leaving me behind the eight-ball with the FBI. With nothing left to do but wait, I decided to go for a run.
A wall of cool air hit me as I stepped out the door of my apartment; rain-laden clouds darkened the western sky. Thunder rumbled in the distance as I popped my earbuds in and hit my
6 | B a d K a r m a favorite playlist. With luck, I’d be able to complete my five miles and be back home before the early fall storm hit.
I was just hitting my stride, listening to Aerosmith doing “Walk this Way,” one of my favorites, when the phone call came. Damn it, I had told Pardeep not to call for another hour. I guess hours pass quicker in India. I stopped running and gulped in air as I wheezed a weak, “Hello.”
“Is this Zoey Cal away?” The voice was not Pardeep’s. This voice was low, sultry, and very sexy. He sounded hot, I thought, but he’s probably short, fat and bald, so don’t get too excited, Zoe.
“Yes,” I said between breaths. I willed my heart rate to lower itself. “Who is this?”
“Miss Cal away, my name is Seth Andrews. I’m a detective with the Hope Harbor Police Department.”
My stomach flipped. The detective continued. “I’m sorry to have to do this over the phone, but I’m afraid I have some bad news. I believe Felix Cal away is your uncle. Is that correct?”
My mouth dried up. I couldn’t talk. I managed to squeak a response, “Yes, he’s my uncle…why? What—?”
“I’m truly sorry,” the voice cut in. “A neighbor found your uncle this morning. I’m afraid he’s dead.”
My legs turned to rubber. Oh God, not Felix. Not Uncle Felix.
Dropping to my knees, I managed to sit myself down on a lawn next to the sidewalk.
“What do you mean he’s dead? I saw him a few days ago. He can’t be dead.” This was not happening. No, no, no! Not Uncle Felix. He couldn’t die. We had so much to do.
“I’m sorry, Miss Cal away. I wish I didn’t have to make this cal.
I’d rather we talk in person. Yours was the only number we could find. We still need to talk to you, however, and it should be face-to-face. Are you able to come to the station?”
And then the tears came, cascading down my face, soaking my cheeks and entering the corners of my half-open mouth I tasted the salt and looked through unseeing eyes at the empty street before me.
A Northern girl with a wicked imagination, Debi fell in love with mysteries after reading her first Nancy Drew book. She left her job as a paralegal to write full-time. Along with her mystery series, Debi is also the author of many books on the paranormal. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two black cats, and her lab, Hunter. You can find her at www.authordebichestnut.com
It is a pleasure to join in the tour for the new book, Faith in Him by Julia Firlotte @juliafirlotte run by Love Books Tour @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours
Adam’s deepest wounds are abandonment and betrayal. He’s spent years searching for that special someone who can fill his desolate world with love and trust. He thought he’d found her once, but instead got dragged into a dangerous criminal underworld that tore his wounds wide open and left him broken.
But as he falls in love, Adam fights back hard and fast against the darkness that surrounds him. Fidelity, bravery, and integrity become his values, and he’s sticking to them. That is until he meets Ella, the tender-hearted soul mate he’s yearned for. Now suddenly there’s more at risk than just himself.
Adam’s an all or nothing kind of guy. How far will he go to keep Ella safe? And will Ella have enough faith in him to love him anyway?
Some mornings you wake up and just know that something has got to change. Not that things haven’t changed for me recently. I’ve lost my dad, finished college, moved to a new country, started a business; there’s not much more that possibly could change in my life right now, but that’s beside the point. I’m talking about things that you’ve got to change about yourself.
I was bullied as a kid by the boys that lived on our estate, so I hung out with my older sisters and Hannah from next door rather than make friends of my own. It didn’t mean I was happy, though; I didn’t want to always be treated as the baby of the family that everyone had to look after. I wanted to be that confident girl who could saunter up to those boys hanging out at the end of my street and cut them dead with just the arch of a carefully plucked eyebrow, but I wasn’t that girl back in school, and at almost twenty I’m still not that girl.
Just now was no different.
We pulled up at a petrol station on the way to the market and while Rose was re-fuelling the van, she sent me inside to pay the cashier. And he was gorgeous. Stunning eyes and a warm smile for me as I passed him the money, he could have come straight out of the pages of a Harlequin romance novel. He started the conversation with, ‘I haven’t seen you in here before, I’d have remembered you,’ and my pulse did that weird racing thing as I realised he might have been flirting.
All great, huh? Not so much.
Did I smile and reply with something cute and witty? Of course not. I blinked at him, mumbled ‘no’ and scurried out of the shop before realising I’d left my change on the counter and had to go back in again. By then I was blushing a shade of red that a London bus would be proud of.
It’s the story of my life.
When I returned to the van, I plummeted into the seat next to Hannah with a thump that gained me a concerned look, but I just stared out of the side window, desperately trying to catch the breeze on my face from the open window as we started to drive again, still lost in my thoughts.
I want what most girls want, a boyfriend who I can love and trust. Oh yeah, and a fabulous career in song writing wouldn’t go amiss, would it? But not me, I can’t even talk to a cute guy in a petrol station. What am I, still at school?
But one day, I’m going to be that confident independent girl who can stand up for herself and flirt with a cute guy.
Julia Firlotte loves writing gripping stories about strong alphas with big hearts and the heroines who fall for them. Angst and passion, trust and intrigue are fundamental to all of the love stories Julia writes, so regardless of how her characters misbehave, you’ll definitely want to keep reading about them.
Julia has been reading romance novels since she was a teenager and started writing her own in 2018. She has lots of stories in her head, but never enough time to write them all. Julia believes strongly in making her character’s worlds as real as possible and there are many character insights on her website if you’d like to learn more about them.
Julia lives in Southern England with her husband, son and daughter and their five cats and would love to meet you on social media.
I am pleased to be involved in the tour for The End of Where we Begin by Rosalind Russell @Ros__Russell arranged by Love Books Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours. The novel is published by Impress Books @ImpressBooks1. You can follow the tour across social media.
Veronica is a teenager when civil war erupts in South Sudan. Lonely and friendless after the death of her father, she finds solace in her first boyfriend, and together they flee across the city when the fighting breaks out. On the same night, Daniel, the son of a colonel, also makes his escape, but finds himself stranded by the River Nile, alone and vulnerable. Lilian is a young mother, who runs for her life holding the hand of her little boy Harmony – until a bomb attack wrenches them apart, forcing her to trek on alone.
After epic journeys of endurance, their lives cross in Bidi Bidi in Uganda – the world’s largest refugee camp. There they meet James, a counsellor who helps them to find light and hope in the darkest of places.
The End of Where We Begin is a gripping and intimate true life account of three young people whose promising lives are brutally interrupted by war. It documents their heart-breaking and inspiring battle to keep moving on through the extremes of attack, injury, exile and trauma. It is a story of the bonds of community and resilience in adversity – a powerful message for our troubled times.
With the first hint of dawn the camp begins to stir. The darkness fades and the small, twittering birds that share this desolate, unsatisfactory home with a quarter of a million refugees launch into their feeble chorus. A pale, violet light seeps through the cracks around the door toLilian’s one-roomed home and slowly her eyelids open. Another day. She sits up on the narrow iron bedstead, plants her feet on the dirt floor and steps straight outside in her nightdress. The jumbled remnants of a dream slip away as her muscle memory walks her, barefoot, to the water tap.
Things move slowly in the camp. Time and money, the twin engines of life elsewhere, aren’t so important here. There are hardly any jobs and very little cash. It is always hot, so no one rushes, but there are still certain chores that need to be done. At the water pump, neat lines of yellow plastic jerrycans radiate from the single tap like sun rays in a child’s drawing. Lilian sets down her container at the end of a row. Dozens of women have got there before her. The tap won’t be switched on until seven and they have scratched their initials onto the containers so they can come back to claim their places once they’ve got the cooking fires going.
Lilian lives by herself in the camp, but she hasn’t always been alone. She was married at nineteen and she and her husband had a beautiful baby boy. In South Sudan she had a job.
Rosalind Russell is a journalist who worked for more than a decade as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and the Independent in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Her reporting has included the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq and Burma’s Saffron Revolution. She lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Burma’s Spring is her first book.
What a treat it is to be included in the tour for Clare Flynn’s @clarefly novel A Painter in Penang. The tour is arranged by the fab team at Love Books Tours @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours – do follow the tour across social media.
Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.
But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.
From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.
JANUARY 1948, NAIROBI
Evie took another sip of mango juice and gazed towards the distant Ngong hills. Arthur had been right when he’d said all those years ago that she would love Africa. He had promised the majestic continent would seep into her bones and possess her, so that afterwards everywhere else would be a poor substitute – smaller, less significant. He’d also been right that she would sense its age, its primeval history, a land where if you were to see a dinosaur lumbering towards you it wouldn’t surprise. After only nine months living here, Evie didn’t want to be anywhere else.
She leaned back in her chair, letting the sun touch her face, bathing her skin with its dry sensuous heat. Still only ten in the morning and it was already hot. Instead of making her lethargic, the heat revitalised her, endowing her with strength and energy. Evie loved quiet moments of reflection like these when she would count her blessings and recognise that, after the years of sorrow, loss and war, she had so much to be thankful for. She’d lost her first husband after forgiving his infidelity, been forced to flee her home as the Japanese invaded Penang, endured years of loneliness, refusing to accept that Arthur, the love of her life had not survived the war. But he had and here they were.
At the edge of the paved terrace a lizard stretched out on the stone wall, basking in the morning sunshine. Evie watched its heavy-lidded eye open lazily as its tongue darted out and snagged a passing insect. Turning her head, she could see Gichinga, the houseboy, was hanging sheets out to dry, their whiteness blinding under the power of the sun. He flipped the sheets with a snapping action to get the creases out as he pegged them on the line. The name Gichinga meant firebrand, but the boy was gentle and shy, like a young deer.
The sheets flapped gently as the breeze caught them. Laundry dried in moments here, unlike in the sultry humidity when she lived in Penang, Malaya. There the heat had been oppressive, like a steam bath, and she’d had to change her clothes several times a day.
Thoughts of Penang made her think of her stepdaughter. Jasmine had loved her island birthplace in a way that Evie was only now beginning to comprehend. Here in Africa, Jasmine was like a young plant, pulled up and replanted in ground too shallow for her roots to gain purchase. She appeared to be wilting, listless and etiolated, despite the constant sunshine.
Evie’s own love affair with Kenya made it hard for her to understand what her daughter was going through. While Evie had loved Penang, her connection to East Africa was deeper, almost visceral. Living anywhere else would never come close.
Jasmine had been born in Penang, spent four years in Australia and several months in England and appeared unmoved by the majesty and vastness of Kenya.
Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she’s not gazing out of her windows at the sea.
Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.
Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.
Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World – 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea – World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River – post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories – both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.
Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Get a free copy of Clare’s exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at www.clareflynn.co.uk.