If you are a regular visitor to my blog you will know that I am a big fan of Sue Moorcroft’s work and I’m really looking forward to returning to Middledip, a location you might be familiar with from some of her previous books. I can’t quite bring myself to read a Christmas book just yet, though I will of course be reviewing nearer the time, but I did enjoy reading this short extract and finding out about one of the main characters, Ben. Just enough to give a flavour of what sounds like another fabulous read. If you like it too, you can order the e-book now or pre-order the paperback version which is due to be published on 2nd November by Avon Books.
First of all, what’s the book about?
Sue Moorcroft, #1 Kindle bestseller is back, with a Christmas novel that promises to warm your heart this festive season.
Alexia Kennedy has lived in the little village of Middledip all her life – and now it’s time for her to give something back. As an interior decorator, she’s been tasked with turning the village’s neglected Victorian pub into a community café that everyone can use.
After months of fundraising by all the villagers, Alexia can’t wait to get going – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how she could have let this happen, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.
But help comes in the most unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership. However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…
Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.
Now read an exclusive extract from The Little Village Christmas
‘Are you serious?’ Ben stared at his mother.
Penny twisted a tissue in her hands. ‘I’m only telling you that Dad said if you hadn’t taken up with that girl then none of this would have happened. Lloyd wouldn’t be . . . where he is.’
Ben sank onto his parents’ floral sofa, the cotton cold beneath his sweating palms. ‘That girl’s name is Imogen.’
‘In a way, I can see Dad’s point. Everybody in Didbury knows her family. The Goodbodys breed like rabbits, live off benefits and their garden looks like a scrap yard. They’re like something from a reality TV show.’
‘Imogen’s never claimed a benefit in her life. She’s put in long hours in a demanding sales environment, in spite of her background and in spite of people badmouthing her.’ Ben wasn’t sure whether he was more outraged by his parents’ prejudice or by being put in the position of defending Imogen.
His mother didn’t let his dig deter her. ‘The Goodbody men are chancers and the women are slu—’ She flicked Ben a glance and chose a primmer adjective. ‘The women are man-eaters. If she was supposed to be on a spa weekend with an old uni friend, why was she in a car with Lloyd in the middle of the night? Dad warned you you’d never have a quiet mind if you married her, so why did you insist on working away so much? You’re such a decent, straightforward man, but didn’t you see that it was like throwing petrol and a match together? At least Lloyd’s single. Imogen was married to you—’
Ben leapt to his feet. ‘Lloyd’s my brother!’ He ought to have been used to being the second child in all senses, but no way could he get his head around his mother holding him in any way responsible for this mess.
Penny buried her face in her hands. ‘And those aunties of Imogen are going round painting her as an innocent victim and you as a callous husband!’
‘Do you think I don’t know? The Auntie Mafia never pass me in the supermarket without asking what happened to “For better, for worse”.’
And his petition for divorce had goaded them to literally hiss at him in the street. He hadn’t wasted his breath defending himself because he understood Imogen’s family’s loyalty lay with their own. They’d never heard Imogen’s words: I don’t think we’re going to get past this, Ben. If you can’t forgive me then divorce me. Her pain when he’d demanded to know how he could forgive her when she refused to tell him what had really happened that night had been too deeply personal and painful a moment to share with anyone but her.
Penny gulped. ‘And now the Goodbodys are giving you a hard time and you’re selling up and leaving Didbury.’
Her words reminded Ben of the depressing task that had been interrupted by this conversation: dismantling their home. Stilted phone calls to Imogen about what she wanted packing into her brothers’ vans, his heart convulsing as he imagined her, white-faced, trying to be brave.
The very same heart that couldn’t forgive her.
He turned wearily for the door. ‘I’m not leaving because of Imogen’s family, Mum. I’m leaving because of mine.’
About The Author: Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award, and been nominated for others, including a ‘RoNA’ (Romantic Novel Award). Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, and a past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and editor of its two anthologies. The daughter of two soldiers, Sue was born in Germany and went on to spend much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus. She lives in Kettering.
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