Adult Romance, Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Book Extract, Chick - Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction

Blog Tour: Book Extract – Her Secret by Kelly Florentina

Blog Tour Extract

Her Secret by Kelly Florentina

PUB DATE: 17TH May 2018
ISBN: 9781911583684
PRICE: £8.99
EXTENT: 304 Pages
DIMENSIONS: B format paperback
CATEGORY: Women’s fiction, contemporary
fiction, adult romance, chick-lit

The Blurb!thumbnail_Her Secret - Book Cover

When one door closes, another opens, or so the saying goes.

After being in a long-term relationship for eight years, Audrey Fox never thought she’d tie the knot. But at the age of forty-two, fate throws her a lifeline and she finally has it all – a loving husband, successful career, beautiful family and loyal friends. Life couldn’t be better for Audrey … until a family member entrusts her with a secret that threatens trouble in paradise.

Lying to her new husband definitely wasn’t on the cards when Audrey took her vows, but now she feels there’s no other choice. She either keeps the secret or risks hurting the people that she loves. And then just when the dust seems to settle, an old flame turns up and creates a storm that could bring her world crashing down …

Unable to discuss her dilemma with her significant friends Louise and Tina, or sister-in-law Vicky, the cracks begin to show. Torn between her husband and the people she’s known and loved for years, Audrey’s perfect life begins to spiral out of control. Where do her loyalties lie and whom can she trust? Because there’s no smoke without fire and everyone has secrets … don’t they?

Goodreads Link – Here

Amazon UK Link – Here

About the Author!7915633

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. Her debut novel THE MAGIC TOUCH was published in March 2016. TO TELL A TALE OR TWO… is a collection of her short tales. Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on the subject. SMOOTH OPERATOR (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes. No Way Back was published by Urbane in Sept 2017.

Goodreads Link – Here

Twitter Link – @kellyflorentina

The Extract!

CHAPTER 3

“OH MY GODDDDDDDD!! You’re moving to Highgate?” Tina squeals while doing a little jumpy dance on Louise’s grey slate kitchen tiles. “Congratulations!”
“Well, Daniel’s arranged a viewing for tomorrow. But yes, all being well, we’ll be moving to Highgate!”
“A surprise house. How romantic,” she croons. “I’m SO excited for you – a new start as Mr and Mrs Taylor. Oh, come here.” She gives me a rib crushing hug and her long, curly hair tickles my cheek.
I knew Tina would react like this to my news. She’s very, how can I put this mildly? Amorous. Her life revolves around, well, men. A particular Irish ginger haired man by the name of Ronan, at the moment, a love lost and found. Over her shoulder, Louise is
firing up her laptop at the square, chunky, solid oak kitchen table. Her pièce de résistance as she likes to call it. I helped her pick it out from Camden Market a few years ago. Her kitchen is her life. I watch her tap, tap away at the keyboard with slight trepidation to the buzz of the washing machine and the faint hum of music drifting from the radio on the wooden worktop. As a rule, Louise is more cynical than Tina. I expect she’s going to have a bit of a go at me for letting Daniel take full control of our living arrangements. But then she does like him. Mostly because she dislikes Nick.
Sadly, the feeling isn’t mutual. Daniel thinks Louise is gobby and opinionated, especially when she’s got a drink inside her. But that’s just her way. She doesn’t mean anything by it. Louise just says it as she sees it, you’ve got to get to know her.
“That’s really good news, Audrey. What’s the address?” Louise asks, glancing up at me briefly. See what I mean? She’s been Danielfied.
Tina and I hover over her. “Montenotte Road,” I say with glee, swept in by Tina’s excitement and Louise’s reassurance. Perhaps, I was a bit harsh with Daniel. A surprise house move is romantic, I suppose. I twirl the Tiffany’s horseshoe necklace, Daniel’s wedding gift, between my thumb and index finger, feeling the edges of the encrusted diamonds. “I spoke to Vicky this morning too,” I enthuse, “I’ve offered them my flat. Mates rates and everything.
She was completely blown away.” I pause as their praise fills the garlicky warm air – I’m such a brilliant sister. They’re lucky to have me. But I’m the lucky one, I tell them, George and Vicky are always there for me. George and I are close siblings. I’m not sure if it’s
because there’s only a year between us, or because it’s just the two of us, but it works. “Daniel said it’s close to the village,” I go on, curling a lose strand of hair behind my ear. “We can walk to The Flask when you come over.”
“No way.” Tina’s voice goes up a pitch, nearing hysteria. Louise cringes. Louise can’t bear loud sounds, like chewing or sniffing, or even breathing. Apparently, it’s a condition – Misphonia, or sound-rage.
I nod fervently. “He said it needs quite a bit of work but…”
“Crouch End,” Louise cuts in, and my smile dies on my lips. She’s got it wrong, obviously. She must’ve typed in the wrong postcode.
“No, Highgate Village,” I correct, frowning at her computer.
“Not according to MoveHouseNow dot com. Look.” Shoving a few recipe books out of the way, she pushes the laptop back a little, giving us a better view of the screen then starts reading.
“Montenotte Road, Crouch End. Location – north of Shepherds Hill, seven minute walk to Highgate Station. A short stroll away from the desirable amenities of CROUCH END with its bustling restaurants, shops and great atmosphere.” She glances at me with a big grin. “I thought it sounded familiar. It’s only a few streets from here. We’ll be practically neighbours. How awesome is that?” That can’t be right. Daniel said it was just around the corner from Highgate Village.
I push my sliding glasses up the bridge of my nose and lean forward, hand on her back. “Click on the map icon, Loulou.” A street map springs onto the screen.
“Look, here it is.” Louise moves the cursor over the map and we all tilt our heads like confused dogs. “And this is where I am.” She turns around and beams at me, face inches from mine. Phew, that Elderflower infusion we had with our lunch is quite potent – it
almost smells like booze.
“Oooh, that’s handy, isn’t it?” Tina says, helping herself to a fistful of dry roasted nuts from the bowl on the table. I focus on Louise’s oil stained notepad, bursting with her own recipes, my mind ticking away like a time bomb. “A bonus,” Tina says, munching. “What’s up, Aud, you look a bit miffed.”
“He said it was close to the village,” I complain, twisting my lips thoughtfully.
“Well, it’s not far from Highgate station,” Louise offers, her tone depicting, ‘why are you being so picky.’ “and….”
“Enlarge that map, Louise.” I squat and my knees creak. Tina grabs another fistful of nuts.
“Where do you put it?” Louise ducks her head and eyes Tina under my arm. “We’ve only just had lunch.” Louise made us a gorgeous spaghetti lobster. A recipe she plans on using at the new restaurant she works at in Soho. She was headhunted for her culinary skills several weeks ago. Having a best friend who’s a chef definitely has its plusses. We keep telling her she should go on MasterChef, but she won’t listen. One day I’m going to download the application form and fill it in for her myself.
“I can’t help it. The excitement has given me the munchies.” Tina drains her tumbler of Elderflower water then squeezes between us, licking her lips, face so close to mine that I can smell her peanuty breath. “What’re we looking for, Aud?”
Louise gives Tina a long, sideward glance, annoyed. “Do you have to munch in my ear? You’re getting on my nerves.”
“Well, how am I supposed to chew? Silently? Because if –”
“Shhhhh…you two. I can’t concentrate.” The room falls silent.
“I knew it!” I say finally, straightening up.
“Knew what?” They say in unison.
“Montenotte Road. I knew I’d heard of that street name before.
Look.” I lean in between them and snatch the mouse from Louise’s limp grasp. “It runs almost parallel to Aliki’s house.”
“None for me.” Tina slides along the long bench, raising a palm.
“I’m driving. But I’ll have another glass of that posh water of yours,
if you don’t mind.” Louise tells her to help herself from the jug on the worktop as we
settle down at the table. “The point is, I thought it was in Highgate village…and…” I hold my head in my hands. Did Daniel really try to mislead me just to get me to agree to the house purchase? I mean, obviously, he knows I’ll find out where it is. I know I’m not
the best street navigator in the world and, admittedly, still have to use my SatNav whenever I drive to Connie’s in Bayswater, but I’m not that daft. What the hell is he playing at?
“You okay, Audrey?” Louise takes a sip from her wine glass. I glance up at her, wanting to ask her the same question. Her lips are pale and cracked at the sides, face pasty, eyes puffy and dark. She’s lost quite a bit of weight, too. It must be the stress of the new job.
The restaurant hasn’t been open long and Manuel, the owner, is
pressing her for new creations. Maybe it’s all getting a bit too much
for her, or maybe it’s because of Gerry.
Louise and Gerry were the perfect couple, until Louise decided she wanted to have a baby, that is. The disappointment month after month became almost as unbearable for us as it was for them. Things took a turn for the worse when they discovered that
Gerry’s sperm count was virtually nil. Louise went into meltdown almost overnight. Her dreams of having her perfect family were shattered. But life goes on, doesn’t it? We all thought she was coping, getting on with things; but we were wrong, because behind closed doors she was fighting a different battle – a quest to secretly adopt Gerry’s twin sister’s baby. A baby we all thought Nick had fathered at the time (during one of our breaks. He’s an arse and I hate him, but he was never unfaithful to me.) Of course, you can’t keep a baby a secret, can you? When the truth was out all hell broke loose. I think that was the final straw for Gerry – he’d had enough.

“All I ever wanted was a quiet life with the family we already had,” Gerry told me a few
days before he walked out on her. “Her obsession to have a baby has broken us.”
I’m not going to lie, it did effect our friendship, too. I felt betrayed, lied to. Louise and I didn’t speak for weeks after that, but in time I came to realise that we all do strange things when we’re under pressure, or when we’re desperate. Louise and I had been through a lot together. I didn’t want this one thing to destroy our friendship. I didn’t want bitterness to seal itself inside me, or anger to twist into the fibres of my mind and make me hate her.
Life is short, and to quote one of Vicky’s memes, ‘Time is a thief and a powerful spell, and regrets hang around like a bad ugly smell. Forgive more, resent less.’
“I mean, there’s nothing else troubling you is there?” Louise says, scratching her face. Louise has always had the ability to read my mind – scary. Either that or she’s a witch. I focus on her white collars protruding from her pale blue sweater. I wonder if I should
tell my friends about the flowers I found on my doorstep yesterday evening, about the suspicious black car crawling outside my flat, that I’ve a gut feeling that Nick is back.
“No,” I sigh, quickly deciding against it. Because, let’s face it, I was probably being paranoid. The flowers mightn’t have been for me, there was no name on the card. And, as Daniel pointed out when I mentioned the suspicious looking four-by-four to him
later that evening, there’s no law against cars driving slowly along Dukes Avenue, particularly as it’s lined with road bumps. The driver might’ve just been lost. “I’m just so used to living in my flat that’s all,” I admit, taking a glug from my wine glass. “Crouch
End is lovely too. I must’ve misunderstood,” I lie, but my mind is reeling – why did Daniel feel the need to exaggerate the truth? And why choose a house within walking distance of his ex-wife’s?
“I’ve got some news, too.” Tina announces, biting her bottom lip.
We both look at her expectantly. “You’re not pregnant are you?” I grin into my glass.
She waves a hand. “Nooowa! Give me a flipping chance. We’ve only been back together five minutes.”
“Well, what is it then?” Louise asks. The washing machine plays an end of cycle tune – I think it’s a concerto. Louise throws a glance at it, neatly rolling up her sleeves, and for some inexplicable reason, we all wait until the washing machine concerto stops before speaking again.
“Ronan has asked me to marry him and I’ve said yes,” Tina trills.
We gaze at her in stunned silence. I’m not sure what to say. I knew they were getting on very well but didn’t realise they’d become so close, and he is still married.
Louise speaks first. “Hey, that’s brilliant news, love.” She reaches out for her hand and gives it a light squeeze.
“Oh, wow, that’s fantastic,” I say almost at the same time, binning my cynicism. Who am I to judge? Ronan’s separated, anyway, and he has filed for divorce. We hold hands around the table as if we’re in a séance, grinning at each other stupidly. It’s not often the room
falls silent when the three of us are together.
“That’s cheered us up, hasn’t it?” Louise pours more wine into her glass and attempts to top up mine, but I pull it back and look at the clock above the kitchen door. “It’s only half two and I’m working from home this afternoon.” Louise looks at me as if I’m joking, laughs a bit, and goes to fill my glass. “No, honestly, Lou. I’m fine,” I insist, closing my hand over it. “It’s for a new client. Sam Knight, the body language expert. We had a board meeting about this morning.”
“I’ve heard of him,” Tina says excitedly, “He was on The One Show recently promoting his new book.”
“Oh, right,” Louise says, lips twitching with disappointment. “Well, let’s drink to that too, then.”
I can’t believe we’re all getting hitched. All we need now is for Gerry to make up with Louise. Unlikely, I know, but you never know, anything is possible. I smile, turning to Tina. “I’m really, really pleased for you. Say congrats to Ronan for me, too.”
“To Tina and Ronan,” Louise affirms, glass raised. “And Audrey and her new house. And Sam Knight.”
Tina presses her palms flat on the table. “Well, you can congratulate him yourselves. I know this is a bit short notice but we’re having a party to celebrate on Saturday. You’re both invited, obvs.” Taking a sip of Elderflower water, she makes a circle with her hand. “Bring Jess, Louise. And I’m going to invite Vicky and George, Audrey. Feel free to ask Connie, too. She can come with you and Daniel if you like.”
“She might like to bring her boyfriend,” I offer. “If that’s okay?”
“Oh? Is she seeing someone new?” Louise asks as her phone throbs with a notification on the table.
“Yeah,” I check my phone too. 69 Groupon alerts and 7 Words with Friends. “She’s all loved up.” I slip the phone back into my handbag. “We’re meeting him tonight, actually. Connie has invited us round for dinner.” I raise my eyebrows. “It must be love.”
“Yeah, sure, ask her to bring him.” Tina’s thumbs fly over her phone. “I wonder what he’s like. She’s quite stunning, isn’t she?” I agree. Connie does turn heads wherever we go. Naturally, Daniel insists that she gets her looks from him – and she does look like him. A bit. But my guess is that she’s the spit of her mum.
“Yes, she’s very attractive,” Louise agrees. “Looks a bit like Daniel, doesn’t she? But I wonder if she’s more like her mum.” I told you she can read my mind. “Jess is a lot like me but she’s got her dad’s eyes. He did have lovely eyes,” she reflects, gazing up at
the grey steel 3-light- pendant hanging above us. “Even though he was a complete knob.”
“Yes,” I muse. “She’s probably got her mum’s green eyes, Daniel’s are blue.”
Connie lost her biological mum to a brain haemorrhage when Connie was only two. So we’ll never know. Daniel doesn’t like talking about Sophie, it upset him. All he’s told me is that she was a doting mother, loved the ocean and was buried at sea. Sadly, only one photo of her remains. A family snap of the three of them taken when Connie was a baby. I found it while I was tidying up one of Daniel’s drawers last year. It’s tatty, discoloured and blurry. You can barely make them out. Shame.
“So,” Tina says, snatching our attention. A magpie hops along the windowsill and we all salute it like soldiers. It pecks at the concrete slab a few times before spreading its wings and landing on the gutter of the house next door. “My engagement party.”
“Yes,” Louise and I say in unison, whipping our heads towards her.
“Audrey,” Tina’s eyes flit from me to Louise, earrings swinging in her hair. “I need a huge favour.” Oh, no, I don’t think I like her ominous tone. The last time Tina roped me in to doing her a big favour I ended up having to lie through my teeth to Patrick, a man she met on the Piccadilly Line. She made me answer her phone and tell him she was almost at death’s door to avoid a second date. After going silent on me for what seemed like five minutes, he then asked me out instead – insisted that he liked the sound of my voice, as if that was the most important attribute when choosing a partner. It took me ages to get him off the phone; I think I just hung up in the end. “Would you be my maid of honour?” Tina asks. I open my mouth to speak but her hand flies up. “No offence, Louise, but I’ve known Audrey longer.”
“None taken,” Louise groans, rolling her eyes “Are you sure, Tina?” I gulp, pressing a hand against my chest.
Tina’s very popular, she’s got lots of friends and close relatives she could ask. I can’t believe she’s chosen me. Tina nods eagerly. “Well, then yes.” She pulls me into her arms and I get lost in a tangle of red hair and perfume. “I’d be honoured to be your maid of honour!”
“There’s just one snag.” We pull apart as if an electrical current has snapped between us.
“Well, spit it out.” Louise moans, scrolling lazily through movehousenow.com
“It’s Nick,” she whispers in the tone of a spook on a secret mission.
My stomach clenches. I know what she’s going to say. “He’s back, isn’t he?” I close my eyes briefly as the red tulips and the black four-by-four flash in my mind. Inhaling deeply, I tell myself that it’s okay, I can do this. He was bound to return sooner or later.
I can just avoid him. Our paths need not cross.
Tina nods, biting on a long, red fingernail, “Thing is, Aud…” I frown at her. Louise stops tapping on her keyboard, face dark. “Ronan has asked him to be best man.” She cringes, hunching her shoulders, “So you’ll probably have to liaise with him.”
Oh, bloody hell!

I am one of the last stops on the tour, but definitely go and check out some of the other blogs!

thumbnail_her secret

 

This blog tour has been brought to us by Love Books Group on behalf of Urbane Publications

 

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