An Extract from Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise by Juliet Archer

My guest this week is Juliet Archer, author of Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise for Choc Lit. Juliet is going to tell us a little bit about herself and share an extract from her latest book. Over to Juliet …

Thank you for inviting me onto your lovely blog, Morton – and a Happy Christmas to you and all of your readers! 

I’m Juliet Archer, and I write contemporary romance for Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction. I’d like to tell you a little about myself and my latest novel, Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise –where two people discover the real meaning of Christmas, aided and abetted by a six year-old.

As with many authors, my writing has to fit around other priorities such as family, friends and work. So why, with such a busy life, do I put myself under pressure to write stories and share them with the big wide world? I think there’s both a ‘push’ and a ‘pull’ going on here. The ‘push’ is that words have always fascinated me. As a child, I spent a lot of time scribbling stories and doing word puzzles. Even today I can rarely resist a crossword or Wordle challenge! Also, for years I studied languages, where the focus is often on finding the ‘right’ word or phrase to translate the original text. The ‘pull’ is getting positive feedback from readers and reviewers – it makes me want to write the next book!

I tend to write when and where I can, rather than in a set place. My day job is full on and doesn’t lend itself to a writing routine – although I do get up early and that’s often when I fit in some writing.

In the summer, I enjoy escaping to our garden room (think ‘large shed’) for some peace and quiet and birdsong. Except it’s not very conducive to writing scenes of conflict!

Extract from Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise

Here’s an extract from Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise, showing the heroine, Pip, having a bit of a ‘wobble’ moment. She’s just arrived in Hong Kong and she’s had an early dinner at her hotel with her old friend Tara – and Shelby, the six-year-old that Tara’s nannying. 

However, once they’ve gone home, Pip can’t help dwelling on her loneliness ever since her fiancé Darren dumped her. And a phone call from her brother Jack makes her long to be back in England. But only briefly – because, deep down, our heroine is determined to put her holiday in Hong Kong to good use and move on with her life. 

“When Tara and Shelby had gone, she had the bill added to her account and got into one of the lifts. Her finger hovered over the button for the fifteenth floor, then pressed the one with “20” on it. She would explore the gym, and the rooftop pool; she didn’t feel like going to sleep just yet. 

The gym was empty – it was a Saturday night, after all – but there were about twenty people in the pool area, including a family with three young children splashing vigorously. Pip stretched out on a lone sun lounger well away from everyone else, and drank in the view of Hong Kong Island. The coloured lights were spectacular, even if the most prominent ones were company logos marking their territory. Hardly surprising. “Made in Hong Kong” had always been the stamp of a shrewd business community exporting cheap manufactured goods across the world. Shrewd – and, judging by the logos, adaptable. With “Made in China” taking over on the manufacturing front, Hong Kong seemed to have become a flourishing financial centre.

Her curious gaze travelled over the people around the pool. Mainly couples on pairs of sun loungers and wearing white hotel bathrobes, as if flaunting their intimacy and highlighting her single-ness. And then the family of five, dominating the small pool and marginalising the elderly swimmer striving to complete her lengths target. It seemed to Pip that she was watching some of her life goals pass her by: a partner, children, being someone who mattered to a handful of other lives beyond her mother and brother. The sense of loss cut deep – not just of Darren himself, but of the children they’d never have together; and of herself, the person who could never be the same again … She was thirty-three and back to square one. Huh, more like square minus one, because of the additional baggage.Thanks for that, Darren.

Back in her room, all these thoughts gnawed at her as she got ready for bed. It was like standing on the edge of an enormous void. Even her vague notions of how she would spend the next two weeks had evaporated. She rummaged in her case for the pristine guidebook, and prised it open at a random page. Maybe she would let chance be her itinerary every day.

On the bedside table, her mobile shrilled; it was Jack, and she answered it instantly. ‘Everything okay?’

‘I was going to ask you the same question.’ 

At the sound of his voice, a longing for home gripped her. Not so much the place as the people: the family she’d been born into, a cradle of love and trust where unseen beliefs and bonds were forged, a stronghold built to be tested later in life. If only she’d called Jack and Mum when Tara was with her, let them know she’d arrived safely and used Tara as an excuse to keep it short and sweet. Now her defences were down and her sense of self-worth at its most fragile. 

She adopted a bantering tone, fending off the urge to burst into tears. ‘I landed bang on time, several hours ago. If you’re only phoning now, you can’t have been too worried.’

‘True.’ A deep, rich chuckle. ‘Actually, I’ve only just got up – otherwise I’d have tried you earlier. And I’ve got three missed calls from Mum, probably because she wants to ring you but she’s worried she gets the time difference wrong.’

Pip glanced at the clock: back in England it would be almost midday. Jack’s girlfriend Alicia normally came to stay with him for the weekend from Hampshire, where her high-flying job was based. When Pip had moved into Jack’s cottage on the fringes of Ramsbottom, she’d discovered exactly how he and Alicia spent their Saturday and Sunday mornings: the bedroom door stayed firmly shut until lunchtime. Even worse, whatever happened behind that door turned Jack into a besotted idiot. Oh, it was great to see him in such a good place in his life; but somehow it rubbed salt into the very raw wounds of her break-up. After the first weekend she’d made a point of going out early, as if it was a school day …

Jack was saying, ‘How’s your holiday so far?’ 

‘Well, I’ve an amazing view, and the hotel’s rather luxurious. But other than that it’s a bit of a let-down.’ She let out a pained sigh. ‘I was hoping to see Tara on her own, do some catching-up, except we had Shelby tagging along – that’s the dysfunctional six-year-old she’s looking after. Although, to be fair, the poor kid’s an orphan and being raised by her guardian, who sounds like a monster.’

‘We were dysfunctional children once, remember? After Dad died.’

She copied some of Tara’s briskness. ‘You were fifteen and I was twelve, hardly children. And we were probably dysfunctional anyway at that age.’ 

He laughed. ‘Speak for yourself, I was always perfectly behaved.’

‘Yeah, right.’ Her smile faded as she recalled her brother’s – and her own – angry incomprehension at their father’s suicide. But she couldn’t afford to be reminded of that time; not here, among strangers, with her one friend seemingly unavailable. Especially as she was meant to be dealing with a more recent trauma.  

Deep breath. ‘Say hi to Alicia and tell Mum I’ll ring her tomorrow.’

‘Will do.’

‘And Jack––’

‘Yes?’

A pause; then, ‘Being on my own … well, it’s worse than I thought it was going to be.’

‘Want to come home? You can just hop on the next plane, you know.’

Something wedged in her throat; she swallowed, hard, and felt it shift slightly. ‘It’s – thanks, but I have to stay … I will get through this.’

After the call, she lingered over the view from her window in all its night-time brilliance, unsettled by this alien land so far from home. There must be other people out there, just like herself – trapped in their twinkling towers (real or imaginary), feeling lost and lonely. 

But nothing was for ever, as she was well aware. The new day would dawn, for her and all the others, promising respite from the darkness and the hope of a better life.” 

About Juliet Archer

Juliet Archer writes award-winning romantic comedy for Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction. She has been known to spend many happy hours matching irresistible heroes with their equally irresistible chocolate counterparts – watch out for the dark nutty ones!

Her debut novel, The Importance of Being Emma, won the Big Red Read Book of the Year 2011 Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her second novel, Persuade Me, was shortlisted for the 2011 Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read Award. 

Juliet was born and bred in North-East England, and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and temperamental cat. She has two grown-up children, one in London and one in the USA, and has recently discovered the joys of grandchildren. Her non-writing career has spanned IT, company acquisitions, marketing and project management.  

Find out more about Juliet here

Website:               www.julietarcher.com

Twitter:                @julietarcher

Facebook:             @julietarcher77

About Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise

When a Christmas promise becomes hard to keep …

Pip Smith knows she owes it to her family to hold on to the festive traditions that have been a comfort since the year everything changed – but this Christmas she’s going to need a miracle to keep everyone in her life happy.

After she’s dumped by her fiancé, an invitation to visit a friend in Hong Kong in the run-up to the festive season seems to offer Pip the perfect escape – and she’ll be home for Christmas, of course. Except her escape ends up becoming far more complex than she intended, when she becomes involved with arrogant American Ryan Hawke and his niece, Shelby – a little girl whose most heartfelt Christmas wish is for a proper family.

Will Pip keep her Christmas promise – or will it be more of a compromise, with the help of a little hope and mistletoe?

To buy the book use the following links:

https://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/hope-mistletoe-and-a-christmas-promise/ (all formats) or https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BL3W4NYV (Amazon only).

Other Books by Juliet Archer all available on Amazon.

Thank you, Juliet. I love the cover of your new book. Mx

If you are very quick, you might just catch my Christmas book, Christmas at the Little Beach Café at the bargain price of 99p – link here.

Thank you for visiting my blog – Morton S. Gray – Author. I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Summer at Lucerne Lodge published as an eBook, paperback and audio download too – Amazon Check on my Choc Lit author page for other purchasing options here 

Christmas at the Little Beach Cafe published as an eBook, audio, paperback and large print – Amazon KindleApple iBooksKoboNook BooksGoogle Play and Choc Lit for other options.

Sunny Days at the Beach is now available as an eBook, audio and paperback – Amazon KindleApple iBooksKoboNook BooksGoogle Play and at Choc Lit for other options.

Christmas at Borteen Bay is available as both an eBook and audio download – Amazon KindleAudioApple iBooksKobo and Choc Lit for other buying options.

The Truth Lies Buried is available from all eBook platforms – Choc LitAmazon KindleKoboApple iBooks and also as a paperback and audiobook.

The Girl on the Beach published by Choc Lit is available as a paperback and from all eBook platforms – Amazon KindleApple iBooksKobo, Barnes and Noble and Google Play.

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels. http://mortonsgray.com

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