It’s the last day of my Twelve Books for Christmas blog today and for my finale I’m interviewing the 2015 winner of Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition, the lovely Lynda Stacey about her new release, House of Christmas Secrets.
This year we’re just going to have a nice, normal Christmas…
Last year’s Christmas at Wrea Head Hall didn’t quite go to plan which is why Jess Croft is determined this festive season will be the one to remember, for the right reasons. And she has plenty of reasons to be hopeful, she’s going to marry the man of her dreams, Jack Stone, seven days after New Year’s Eve.
However, as family secrets are revealed in hidden letters and two unexpected guests turn up on the doorstep, Jess is left wondering whether her life will ever be the same again.
Can Jess and Jack still experience a peaceful festive season that they had imagined or are there some problems that even Christmas can’t fix?
Just a small part of Chapter One
Jess hovered in the hotel’s grand hall and leaned against the huge inglenook fireplace. She brushed her dark, wild Afro hair away from her face, more out of habit than need, before allowing her hand to run across the stone mantel. Her fingertips traced the detail in the antique carved stone, and she tipped her head to one side in order to study it more closely. She had lived at Wrea Head Hall now for almost eighteen months, yet each and every day she found another thing of beauty that she’d never previously noticed.
Kneeling down by the tiled hearth, she felt herself shiver as she plunged her fingers into the thick pile of the new carpet. Everything was new and had been replaced after the fire that had almost destroyed the whole hotel just over a year before and now instead of the dark blues that had previously run throughout the grand hall, everything was now decorated in warm reds and golds, giving the whole room a rich and luxurious finish. Jess looked up to the ceiling, thankful that the ornate plaster had survived, along with the carved bosses within it that were painted gold on the white background. So much had been lost, yet miraculously much had also been saved or repaired. Even the Wren oak panelling had been revived, and Jess smiled at its beauty, grateful that the insurance had covered the work, and relieved that skilled craftsmen had pulled out all the stops to bring the Hall back to its former glory.
Jess picked up the long, cast iron poker, and began to stab at the embers, before carefully choosing a log, lifting back the fireguard and throwing the wood into the flames that already danced around in the grate. The sudden addition of another log created new flames of gold, orange and blue that wrapped themselves around the wood. Ironically, Jess still loved everything to do with the fire, especially in the winter, and always found it mesmerising. For her the flames held a certain magic and comfort that she couldn’t explain, and many a night she’d come down here with Jack after the guests had all gone to their beds. Together they’d sit on one of the settees, cuddling up, holding hands and simply staring into what remained of the embers.
‘Never waste a log,’ Jack often said to her, it was a saying he’d picked up from Madeleine’s father shortly before his untimely death. The saying always made Jess sigh and she wondered what life at the hotel would have been like had Morris survived. Would she be living here? Would she have got to know Jack? Would they have fallen in love? And what if they hadn’t, where would she be now and what would she be doing? She held a hand to her heart and acknowledged that she had so many reasons to be happy. Yet, she was fully aware that she was only happy because others, including herself, had previously suffered. She thought back to the year before, to how her sister Madeleine’s former boyfriend had terrorised them all and every single day she wished that Liam had never existed, that Madeleine had never met him and that he’d never got involved with their precious family. After all, he’d killed many of the people they loved and had almost succeeded in killing the rest. His obsession with Madeleine had caused each and every one of them more pain and heartache than Jess could have ever imagined.
Feeling a little warmer, Jess moved back from the fire, sat on the upholstered fender seat within the inglenook and thought about the past. It was times like this, while watching the flames, that she’d think of her mother, of Madeleine’s father and of all the people that Liam had killed, while all the time feeling ridiculously overwhelmed and grateful to have survived his clutches.
‘This year we’re just going to have a nice, normal Christmas,’ she whispered to herself in full knowledge that the happenings of the year before had been somewhat extraordinary.
Want to read more? You can buy it here:
Ebook at: GetBook.at/ChristmasSecrets
Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,
Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novelHouse of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.
I asked Lynda to tell us a bit about her Christmas traditions:
Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?
Ohhhh of course. I have loads, but my favourite two are…
The first one is Marzipan. I buy so much Stollen and we eat it every day. It reminds me of childhood when my mum used to make everyone’s Christmas and wedding cakes and she used to give us the left-over marzipan as a treat.
My second tradition is a sweet Chicken Curry. I created my own recipe for this around 30 years ago, it contains sultana and apple…. It’s lovely and really juicy and I always make it for our supper on Christmas Eve. There’s always some left over and we warm it up at stupid o’clock when we wake up to open Christmas presents.
It sounds delicious, Lynda, but I’m not sure about curry for breakfast! 🙂
When do you open your Christmas presents?
As soon as I stir and bounce around the house. My husband says I tend to imitate Tigger..! It’s normally around 5 am on Christmas morning and of course this is when we warm up the curry.
If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?
Oh my word, what a fabulous question. I’d probably say Milly Johnson. I know Milly really well, I love her books and I just love her… she’s full of fun and she’d be a great guest to invite and knowing Milly she’d even help me with the washing up.
What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?
Can I choose two? I’d like the Writers and Artists yearbook… I buy it every year. It’s always full of all the industry information that I find totally invaluable. But also, for something lovely to read, I’d most probably like any book by lovely friend Victoria Howard
You can find out more about Lynda here:
Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Lynda. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, successful New Year.
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