I’m delighted to welcome popular romcom author, Penny Parkes onto my blog today. It’s Publication Day for Penny’s latest book, Snowed in at The Practice, so I’ve asked us to tell us all about it and to share a scene from the book with us.
The fourth and final instalment in the much-loved Larkford series – join the residents for a festive fling as the snow falls, secrets are revealed and romance blossoms under the mistletoe!
Dr Holly Graham is finding life with two sets of twins exhausting. Even with husband Dr Taffy Jones and devoted friend Elsie by her side, she is completely outnumbered. Making the transition back to work will be no easy feat, but a regular slot on Radio Larkford as their on-air doctor might be the perfect stepping stone – until an unexpected job offer changes everything… Dr Alice Walker’s new canine clinic at Larkford Surgery with Coco, her assistance dog, has been a storming success. If only shipping her best friend, Dr TillyGrainger, in from South America to cover for Holly had been such a smooth transition. It seems that Tilly isn’t finding life in the peaceful Cotswolds valley as rewarding as she’d hoped, and she is causing chaos…
It sounds fun, doesn’t it? You can buy the book here:
Penny is sharing this scene with us today:
The front door swung open and Alice and Coco barrelled through the parquet hallway and into the kitchen. Since her boyfriend Jamie had taken a temporary work placement in Ireland, it had become Alice’s custom en route to The Practice, to call in at Holly’s for the first coffee of the day – Elsie’s kitchen providing the central focus for most of their socialising these days. At times, Alice seemed quite lost without him, and Holly was only too delighted to provide company, coffee and distraction, in exchange for a little update now and then.
‘Morning! I hope you haven’t eaten already – I picked up Danish pastries,’ said Alice chirpily, her assistance dog Coco at her feet, as she carefully hung up her beautiful velvet coat. No longer one to keep things for best, she was a close contender with Elsie for the role of Larkford’s style icon these days. Not that Elsie seemed to mind.
‘I hope one of those pastries has my name on it!’ Elsie said, deliberately ignoring the look that passed between Holly and Taffy. ‘I’m in need of decadence today. All this puréed fruit is giving me a glimpse into my future and I’m not sure I like it.’
Holly noticed that Taffy, Ben and Tom had quickly squirrelled away all evidence of their pancake extravaganza and were holding out their plates expectantly. Seriously, thought Holly, it was like feeding an army in this kitchen most days.
Needless to say, Alice had thoughtfully picked out a dairyfree offering for Ben and soon contented yummy noises filled the room, to the accompaniment of Olivia banging her fists on her high chair in excitement at the sliver of buttery goodness heading her way.
‘Stick the radio on,’ said Alice, as she poured coffee for everyone, and Holly handed out orange juice in a tried and tested manoeuvre of choreography. ‘Lizzie had me in stitches just now. She’s on cracking form, have you noticed?’
Holly had in fact noticed that giving her best friend, Lizzie, ready access to a microphone and a Nespresso machine had been a masterstroke in her recovery from anxiety, not to mention with all three of her children now being at school, Lizzie was indeed generally on the up. It was fair to say that, in their small community, the ‘anonymous’ part of Lizzie’s Agony Aunt phone-in show on Radio Larkford was really anything but. Nevertheless, Lizzie’s advice was often on message, despite being off the cuff, and generally hilarious in its bluntness.
‘All I’m saying,’ came the emotional tones of today’s unwitting caller across the airwaves, ‘is that I’d just like a small break from my children climbing all over me, before my husband starts, you know?’
Holly and Alice both snorted their coffee across the table as they burst out laughing, recognising only too clearly the voice of Hattie from The Deli in town. Taffy merely looked perplexed.
‘But, surely it’s nice that he still fancies her—’ began Taffy, unwittingly stepping into a barrage of abuse from the women at the table.
Lizzie clearly had no scruples when it came to telling it like it is, even when on the airwaves. ‘You’re not a cappuccino machine,’ she said with feeling. ‘He can hardly expect you to be on the go with kids and The D— I mean, with work all day and then get hot and steamy at the flick of a switch.’
Taffy swallowed his laughter in a moment, when he saw how intently his beloved was listening to the answer. Holly offered him a watery smile in reassurance, but Lizzie was on a roll.
‘Seriously, any new dads out there feeling all hard done by because they’re not getting much duvet action need to take a long hard look at themselves. You can’t be Mary Poppins one minute and Jessica Rabbit the next. Your wives may be mothers now, but that doesn’t mean you should stop wooing them. When’s the last time you ran them a bath, or cooked them supper? Maybe looked after your kids for a bit so they could regroup? Hat—, I mean, our caller has a point – there needs to be a transition from mother to partner and you guys need to make that happen!’ She spoke with feeling and gusto and Holly laid odds that there were women all over Larkford cheering her on, not to mention husbands curling their toes. ‘Ask them what they want! And now here’s Journey with a little reminder.’ As the lyrics of ‘Any Way You Want It’ blasted out around the kitchen there was an uncomfortable silence for a moment.
Ben looked around the table in consternation. ‘Aunty Lizzie gives weird advice on the radio. If they like climbing so much, she should just tell them to buy a climbing frame—’ Alice excused herself from the table as orange juice spurted from her nose and Holly held her sides laughing.
Here’s what readers are saying about Penny
‘A page-turning plot, laugh out loud funny. I loved it!’ – Katie Fforde
Delightfully warm’ Jo Thomas, author of The Olive Branch
‘A pure delight from start to finish’ Julie Cohen, author of Dear Thing
‘Radiates warmth and it’s funny!’ Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller
‘A charming read’ Emma Lee-Potter
‘Wonderfully warm’ My Weekly
Want to read it for yourself? You can buy the book here:
PENNY PARKES survived a Convent education largely thanks to a ready supply of inappropriate novels and her passion for writing and languages. She studied International Management in Bath and Germany, before gaining experience with the BBC. She then set up an independent Film Location Agency and spent many happy years organising shoots for film, television and advertising – thereby ensuring that she was never short of travel opportunities, freelance writing projects or entertaining anecdotes. Penny now lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, two children and new puppy. Her first novel, Out of Practice was winner of the RoNA for a Romantic Comedy Novel 2017.
Thanks so much, Penny, for dropping by to tell us about your new book. Wishing you many sales.
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Single all the Way….
Meg and her mother Sally have both split up with their husbands just before Christmas so are heading down to a remote cottage in Cornwall to heal their heartbreak. Will Christmas work its magic on them? And are both marriages really over for good?