Today Christmas at Borteen Bay is launched into the world. Thank you to all those who have pre-ordered it. This Christmas novella is set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen and is available as an eBook or Audio Download from 13 November 2018.
It always seems such a simple statement – my new book is published today – but the work in the background to get to that point is tremendous. I originally wrote the book in November 2017 and since then it has been through the Choc Lit Reader Panel, been worked on by my editor many times, I have read and amended it countless times, the cover designer produced the cover and that’s not counting the background work at my publisher Choc Lit to format it, load it to retail sites and market the title. For the first time for me this book is available as an audio download and is narrated by Penelope Freeman. Bloggers have read advanced copies and taken time to write reviews and I’m sure I must have forgotten something. Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in getting my third book to market. I do hope that readers enjoy it.
So what is Christmas in Borteen Bay about?
Christmas has a way of bringing family secrets to the surface …
Christmas is a bittersweet time for Pippa Freeman. There are good memories, of course – but some painful ones too.
Then her mother is implicated in a mysterious occurrence in their home town of Borteen, and Pippa wonders if she’ll ever experience a happy Christmas again – especially when a family secret is revealed.
But when police officer and old school friend Ethan Gibson offers his support, Pippa begins to realise that even though her life has been turned upside down, a happy and hopeful Christmas isn’t impossible …
The novella is available from all ebook retailers and also (in a first for me) as an audio download narrated by Penelope Freeman.
To tempt you, I’m posting a taster below.
Ethan Gibson didn’t mind early morning shifts. In fact he relished the silence in the streets of the seaside town of Borteen. Somehow pre-dawn had a different energy about it. The majority of the population and visiting tourists, admittedly few in December, were mostly still in bed. His boots sounded loudly on the pavement.
He looked up to catch a few snowflakes that drifted from the overcast sky. Thankfully, his police hat was securely strapped to his head, otherwise it would surely have fallen off with that amount of head tilt.
Could it actually be a white Christmas this year? The bookies would be wary of having to pay out large sums to those hopefuls who gambled on the possibility. If these flurries continued there would be a lot of bets placed soon. Ethan didn’t think he’d bother to waste any cash.
Relaxed, content and rather distracted by the sound of the sea, combined with the orange glow of the dawn sky, he began to count his steps. The tide was almost completely out in the bay and the flat, as yet undisturbed beach lay beyond the sea wall. Ethan would have loved nothing better than to strip off his boots and socks, to run over the sand. He laughed to himself at how funny a policeman in full uniform running in circles barefoot on the beach would look to anyone watching, like something out of an old black and white movie. He’d no doubt get himself put on a disciplinary charge too, but the temptation was so great, especially as it didn’t appear as if anyone in the town was awake to see him.
He continued his steady walk along the promenade, checking the buildings as he always did, looking for anything out of place as he passed by. He paid particular attention to Rose Court guesthouse, but only because he hoped to catch a glimpse of Pippa Freeman, who ran the guesthouse with her mother.
Ethan had had a “thing” about Pippa, ever since he’d shared a table with the girl at Borteen Infants’ School. They’d not spoken to each other properly since a disastrous school Christmas party over ten years ago, but despite that and two failed relationships since, his secret adoration had never really gone away. He shook himself to remove the brief fragment of bad Christmas past memory invading his calm state.
The newly installed Christmas lights outside of The Ship Inn blinked into life as he neared the pub. Ethan checked his watch. They must be programmed to light up at six-thirty each morning. He unconsciously began to hum ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ in his deep baritone.
He continued along the promenade, lamenting the fact that the chip shop wouldn’t be open today. He was a big fan of the occasional battered cod and chips with lashings of salt and vinegar from The Borteen Cod. He would even have missed out on his promised beef and Yorkshire pudding Sunday lunch at his mother’s if the shop had been open.
Making sure the doors and windows were secure at Owl Corner Crafts, he skirted the churchyard to check on the church, stopping to straighten the crowns on the three wise men in the nativity scene outside the main door. Pressing against the church doors to ensure they were locked and satisfied that nothing was amiss, he turned back to walk along the promenade again.
That was when it felt like all hell broke loose and it seemed spookily as if he’d somehow conjured it all from his earlier thoughts about the beach.
As he marched along, noticing the change in the light as the sun came up, the shadowy figure of a woman ran from Rose Court guesthouse, across the road and straight over to him. It took him a few seconds to register that it was Pippa. He hadn’t recognised her normally slim outline wrapped in the voluminous Winnie the Pooh dressing gown and Eeyore slippers.
‘Officer, quick! Oh, it’s you, Ethan.’
Momentarily stunned by the fact Pippa had recognised him, Ethan stared at her blankly for a minute before responding. ‘What’s the matter?’ It must be something serious for her to be out on the promenade looking as if she’d just got out of bed. Her dark curls tumbled around her face and he felt a dart of familiar attraction.
‘I was just looking out of my bedroom window.’ She waved her arms around, gesturing at the guesthouse and the beach. She was out of breath and her voice was high-pitched with emotion. ‘My room’s up on the third floor nearly up by the roof and – and I’m sure there’s someone lying on the sand down by the waterline. It doesn’t look as if they’re moving and the tide’s on the turn. Quick.’
Ethan rushed over to the sea wall and looked across the expanse of sand. He could see a dark shape way down by the edge of the waves. A seal perhaps?
‘I’ll go take a look, just in case. It’s probably a seal.’ He smiled across at her, feeling regret that he couldn’t prolong their conversation. Sprinting to the steps which led down onto the beach, he began to run on the pristine sand, just as he’d been imagining such a short while before – although the dream had been minus his boots. If he wasn’t so concerned with getting to the shape on the sand, he would have laughed to think Pippa had spoken to him again at last, and more than that, she’d recognised him and remembered his name. He’d also got his wish to run the length of the beach. He only hoped he didn’t look as stupid as he’d been thinking he would earlier. He didn’t dare turn to see if Pippa was watching him, for fear of falling over his feet and looking even more of an idiot.
As he got closer, he could clearly see that the shape on the sand was not a seal, but a person, as Pippa had feared.
Happy Publication Day to me, Happy Publication Day to me …