Isolation Junction

Isolation Junction
Isolation Junction Cover Reveal

Strands of Faith

Strands of Faith
Strands of Faith by Rachel J. Bonner Cover Reveal

Saturday, September 22, 2018

COVER REVEAL- Isolation Juncture by Jennifer Gilmour-COVER REVEAL!!



ABOUT THE BOOK:



Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiraling life she so desperately wants to change?

Pre-order Links:
This  new edition of Isolation Junction publishes on 22nd October, and Jennifer Gilmour would love to invite you to the online launch party on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/events/699087493784429/



Author Bio


Born in the North East, I am a young, married mum with three children. I assist in running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.
From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my debut novel, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

Amazon Author link: Author.to/JenniferGilmour 

My online store: www.jennifergilmour.com/shop 





Friday, September 21, 2018

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - A Book Review

 ABOUT THE BOOK:

He's a reclusive writer whose imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows.

Annie Hewitt has arrived on Peregrine Island in the middle of a snowstorm and at the end of her resources. She's broke, dispirited, but not quite ready to give up. Her red suitcases hold the puppets she uses to make her living, the romantic novels she loves, and a little bit of courage--all she has left.

Annie couldn't be more ill prepared for what she finds when she reaches Moonraker Cottage or for the man who dwells in Harp House, the mysterious mansion that hovers above the cottage from a windblown cliff. When she was a teenager, he betrayed her in a way she can never forget or forgive. Now they're trapped together on a frozen island along with a lonely widow, a mute little girl, and townspeople who don't know how to mind their own business. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes. It's going to be a long, hot winter.



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:

Heroes Are My WeaknessHeroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars






Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a 2014 William Morrow publication.


When I start a book by this author it is strictly from a fan girl approach. I don't doubt for a minute the book will be good. When I saw this one had a Gothic tone I was especially exited.

Annie Hewitt arrives a the cottage on a small secluded island in Maine that she inherited from her recently deceased mother.  Annie spent summers here once upon a time, but the memories are not pleasant. When she sees there is no running water or heat, she is forced to visit  Harp house to make arrangements to work on getting the cottage in liveable condition.

“Everything was sharp angles: the peaked roofs, shadowed eaves, and foreboding gables. How she loved this Gothic gloom when she'd come to live here the summer her mother had married Elliot Harp. She'd imagined herself clad in a mousy gray dress and clutching a portmanteau gently born, but penniless and desperate, forced to take the humble position of governess. Chin up and shoulders back, she'd confront the brutish ( but exceptionally handsome) master of the house with so much courage that he would eventually fall hopelessly in love with her. They'd marry, and then she'd redecorate. It hadn't taken long before romantic dreams of a homely fifteen year-old who read too much and experienced too little had met a harsher reality.”


But, Annie's going through a bad patch. Her mother's health issues have drained her bank accounts, and her job as a ventriloquist is at a crossroads after she and her partner split. However, the voices of her puppets are an extension of herself, each with their own personality. Coming to the cottage is something she really didn't have much choice about and due to a strange codicil in her mother's divorce years ago, she must live in the cottage for 2 months out the year. But, the last person on earth she expected to encounter on the island was Theo Harp... a man who once tried to kill her.

“He descended slowly. A Gothic hero in a pearl gray waistcoat, snowy white cravat, and dark trousers tucked into calf- hugging black leather boots. Hanging languidly at this side was a steel barreled dueling pistol."

In the dim gray light, his hair was raven black; his eyes a pale, imperial blue; his face chiseled and unsmiling, everything about him the embodiment of nineteenth century haughtiness. She wanted to curtsy. To run. To tell him she didn't really need that governess job after all.”

Annie and Theo had a very complicated past together in their teenage years. Now they are both hiding out on the island for one reason or another.  Each holds their cards close to the vest, but for Annie, her secrets may have painted a target on her back.

There is a legacy her mother left her, but Annie has yet to figure out what that is. However, someone on the island is just as eager to discover it. With Theo's dark background and their shared past, Annie is immediately wary of Theo.

If this isn't enough drama for you, add a young mother with a small child who refuses to speak, a slew of medical emergencies on the island and the mystery of what took place between Annie and Theo all those years ago.

I think for some who have read SEP in the past, this book might be something of a departure from what you are used to. I happen to love Gothic flavored stories, so of course I was all in. The book is modern Gothic, but pays homage to the Jane Eyre style of storytelling.

Dark, brooding, misunderstood heroes with an air of danger about them is always interesting because the reader is not quite sure if they trust him or not,  and nor does the female protagonist. This creates a edge of suspense and mystery, especially when it looks like there is a real threat out there.

While Jane Eyre was obviously the inspiration here, I also thought I picked up a little Northanger Abbey too. I had to laugh on more than one occasion, especially at Theo, who was actually pretty cool despite his troubled life and the self inflicted guilt he carries, accepting blame for the actions of others. But, of course Theo is a true hero-  or well, he's Annie's hero through and through.

This is a bit of an unconventional romance,but it worked for me. The start up is a little slow, and remains at a steady pace, but never becomes very brisk. However,  I think that is the style the author was going for.  Some parts of the plot were predictable and I did guess at what was happening on the island and why Annie was a target. But, this is really a small complaint because I was pretty impressed with the author's foray into this genre and found it quite refreshing to read something out of the ordinary for a change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


The Huffington Post says the books of Susan Elizabeth Phillips provide a “gateway drug to the whole [romance] genre,” which she assumes is a good thing. Bookpage magazine calls her “the crown jewel of romantic comedy writers,” which is definitely a good thing. Since she wrote her first novel on a typewriter in her kitchen, her books have been published in over 30 languages and appear on bestseller lists all over the world.
In addition to being a New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today bestseller, she is a hiker, lazy gardener, horrible singer, passable cook, passionate reader, wife, mother of two grown sons, and grandmother of two adorable little ones. Her newest book, THE GREAT ESCAPE, is now available in hardback and will be released in trade paperback in April 2013. You can visit Susan on Facebook or on her website, where she’s added a special Members Only Lounge.

COVER REVEAL- Strand of Faith by Rachel J. Bonner- COVER REVEAL!!


                                                               ABOUT THE BOOK:




When the choice is between love and life, how can anyone decide?
A girl and a monk, both with extraordinary mental powers, have compelling reasons not to fall in love.  But those from whom they expect support are manipulating them both because their choices will have consequences for the rest of the world.
After a stormy youth, Brother Prospero has found comfort and fulfilment in the monastery.  That is, until he discovers something that forces him to reconsider his whole vocation.  To follow his heart, he’ll have to face his demons again, outside the security of the monastery. Is it worth the risk?  Can he beat them this time? Or will they finally destroy him?
Orphaned and mistreated, Leonie has found sanctuary and safety at the abbey.  All she wants is to learn how to manage her unusual abilities so that she is not a danger to those around her.  When she comes into contact with Prospero everything threatens to spiral out of her control.  Whether she leaves or whether she stays, how can she possibly avoid destroying – yet again – those she has come to care about? 
Abbot Gabriel is faced with an impossible choice.  He can do nothing and watch the world descend into war.  Or he can manipulate events and ensure peace – at the cost of two lives that he is responsible for.  He knows what he has to do but is he strong enough to sacrifice those he loves?

GET A COPY HERE:




Author Bio

Rachel J Bonner is the author of the four book Choices and Consequences series, the first of which, Strand of Faith, is due out in November 2018.
Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in paranormal romance.  Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun.  When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books, or shooting things with her local archery club.  Target shooting only, honest.  Nothing to worry about.
She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary.  It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.
You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters at www.racheljbonner.co.uk.

Cover Designer’s Social Media


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Don't Send Flowers by Martín Solares- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

From a writer whose work has been praised by Junot Díaz as “Latin American fiction at its pulpy phantasmagorical finest,” Don’t Send Flowers is a riveting novel centered on Carlos Treviño, a retired police detective in northern Mexico who has to go up against the corruption and widespread violence that caused him to leave the force, when he’s hired by a wealthy businessman to find his missing daughter.
A seventeen-year-old girl has disappeared after a fight with her boyfriend that was interrupted by armed men, leaving the boyfriend on life support and the girl an apparent kidnap victim. It’s a common occurrence in the region—prime narco territory—but the girl’s parents are rich and powerful, and determined to find their daughter at any cost. When they call upon Carlos Treviño, he tracks the missing heiress north to the town of La Eternidad, on the Gulf of Mexico not far from the U.S. border—all while constantly attempting to evade detection by La Eternidad’s chief of police, Commander Margarito Gonzalez, who is in the pockets of the cartels and has a score to settle with Treviño.
A gritty tale of murder and kidnapping, crooked cops and violent gang disputes, Don’t Send Flowers is an engrossing portrait of contemporary Mexico from one of its most original voices.

READ AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:


Don't Send FlowersDon't Send Flowers by Martín Solares
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Don’t Send Flowers by Martin Solares is a 2018 Grove Press publication.

There aren’t many crime dramas one can recommend by saying ‘this is an important book’ or a ‘must read’.  However, this book might be the exception.

For those who are fed up with implausible plot lines, constantly craving realism in your fiction, you will have met your match with this novel. While it makes for a great work of fiction, unfortunately it is all too plausible, and all too realistic. It will certainly put things in perspective.

When the sheltered girl of a wealthy man is taken hostage, a former detective, Carlos Treviño, is hired to find her, while attempting to fly under the radar of Commander Margarito Gonzalez, the corrupt chief of police.

Sometimes an overused word is still the only one that will adequately describe something. In this case, I can’t think of a more apt word to describe this novel than 'gritty'. This is a vivid, very depressing look at Mexico, and what has become of it.

The story is a well developed, raw, intricately detailed crime thriller, packed with stunning twists, and edge of your seat suspense. This book has been accurately labeled as 'noir', a personal favorite of mine, which does help to offset some of the grit, giving the story a bit of polish and smoothing out some of the rough edges.

The novel is taut and edgy, perfectly paced, with such well-drawn characterizations, it was like I was actually there watching these horrible and strange events unfold in real time.

I do wish this book would see more coverage, gaining enough momentum to cross over into the mainstream consciousness. This novel is not just a strong crime drama, a well written piece of noir fiction, but is also a searing portrait of the current situation in Mexico. Reading this novel, even if one is not exactly a huge fan of crime thrillers would assuredly raise awareness of Mexico’s plight.

This story is so intimate, it gives readers an up close and personal look at how drug lords rule over law enforcement and politicians in a way news reports could never convey. Yes, it is fiction, but it’s the most realistic and one of the most unforgettable crime novels I’ve read in a long time.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Send-Flowers-Martin-Solares-ebook/dp/B07611BJZQ/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-send-flowers-martin-solares/1127160921

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martín Solares is a Mexican writer whose first novel, The Black Minutes, is a crime thriller that, according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, "treads a ... tightrope between police procedural and surreal fantasy."

Awards include: Premio Nacional de Cuento Efrain Huerta (the Efrain Huerta National Prize for Short Stories), 1998, for "El Planeta Cloralex"; Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize (shortlisted) for The Black Minutes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Long and Faraway Gone


ABOUT THE BOOK:

With the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead. 

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them?


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:



                                                          MY REVIEW:

The Long and Faraway GoneThe Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Long Ago and Far Away Gone by Lou Berney is a 2015 William Morrow/Harper Collins publication.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-

Wyatt is a private investigator who has been hired to check out the alleged harassment claims made by Candace Kilkenny, sister-in-law of another client. The case isn’t really all that worrisome on the surface, but the problem for Wyatt is that he’ll have to return to his home town of OKC, a place that holds dark memories for him- memories he’d rather not have floating to the forefront of his consciousness.

The past had power. The past was a riptide. That's why, if you had a brain in your head, you didn't go in the water.

But, he takes the case, which turns out to be far more complicated than he bargained for, and sure enough, almost right from the second he rolls into OKC, he fights a losing battle with the past, finally embracing the inevitable, hoping to find the answers to lingering questions so that he can finally come to peace with why he has survived a tragedy no one else did.

Julianna Rosales is a nurse in OKC, also haunted by the past. Years ago, her sister vanished from a carnival leaving Julianna stranded, never to be seen or heard from again. Her search for answers consumes her, all the more, as the detective who has worked on the case all these years is set to retire.

Humans, by nature, did this all the time. They wanted something, so they found reasons to support that desire. And then they convinced themselves that the reasons came first, that the reasons lead to the desire and not the other way around.

As Wyatt and Julianna each work their way out of the rabbit hole they’ve jumped into, their paths randomly cross one another in a peculiar sense of irony.

How is it that I am just now discovering this author? All I can say is -Wow!!

This literary mystery embodies two cold cases, each one doggedly pursued by the survivors of the events that transpired. The city, the spookiness of the crimes, even the nostalgia plays a part in setting the atmosphere of the novel. The characters are haunted, tortured by memories and evidence that holds the key to solving the mysteries that keep them firmly rooted in the past, but remain elusive, just out of their grasp.

Was memory like a river that slowed over time to a trickle? Or was it like a house with many rooms that become a house with fewer rooms and then finally just a single room you could never leave?

Wyatt and Julianna both put their lives at stake to free themselves from the agony of living in the continual limbo they have grown so accustomed to living in. Wyatt, however, has the added stress of working a live case for Candace, which is yet another, equally riveting mystery within this novel. It's like getting three mysteries for the price of one.

The writing is outstanding, the dialogue, the flashbacks, the poignancy, the suspense, the danger- it all grabs you and won’t let turn loose until you flip over that final page. I was sorely tempted to start re-reading this book the minute I finished it – it’s that good!

He liked to think that sometimes an ending cleared the way for a beginning.



GET YOUR COPY HERE:

                 https://www.amazon.com/The-Long-and-Faraway-Gone/dp/B01HFMSOTY/

             https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-long-and-faraway-gone-lou-berney/1117053705

                                                                
                                                             ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Lou Berney is the Edgar Award- winning author of November Road ( coming in October 2018- from William Morrow) , The Long and Faraway Gone, Whiplash River, and Gutshot Straight. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, the New England Review, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. 





Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Watch for me by Twilight - by Kirsty Ferry- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

The past is never really the past at Hartsford Hall … Aidan Edwards has always been fascinated by the life of his great-great uncle Robert. A trip to Hartsford Hall and an encounter with Cassie Aldrich leads him closer to the truth about Robert Edwards, as he unravels the scandalous story of a bright young poet and a beautiful spirited aristocrat in the carefree twilight of the 1930s before the Second World War. 

But can Aidan find out what happened to Robert after the war – or will he have to accept that certain parts of his uncle’s life will remain forever shrouded in mystery?


READ AND EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:


Watch for Me by Twilight (Hartsford Mysteries #3)Watch for Me by Twilight by Kirsty Ferry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Watch for Me by Twilight by Kirsty Ferry is a 2018 Choc lit publication.

A lovely, poignant story!


Cassie Aldrich is helping her very pregnant sister-in-law plan an important annual event. But, she’s feeling more than a little overwhelmed and stressed out when she realizes she had taken on more than she bargained for.

But, when she meets Aidan Edwards, a man looking for more information about his great-great uncle Robert, who may have had ties to Hartsford Hall, Cassie soon finds herself immersed in the past, as Robert’s story comes to life, with a little help from a beautiful aristocrat from the late 1930’s.

As is so often the case with dual time frames, the most potent part of the story is centered in the past. I think the present- day events are often a means to an end, using it as a portal to the past, releasing information bit by bit to increase the anticipation. But, I did enjoy watching Cassie and Aidan working out the puzzle, one piece at a time, using information they discovered at Hartsford Hall. They made a great team and their segment was like following two amateur sleuths around while they searched for clues and solved a mystery. It was a lot of fun being a part of that adventure. I must admit that Aidan was very cute, and his attraction to Cassie was charming and very sweet.

The World War two segments were very well done, quite atmospheric, sad, and poignant, but there was also a fantastic love story that needed to be shared with future generations. I was so happy Aidan and Cassie were able to solve the mystery of Robert’s past and shared their delight their discoveries brought them.

While the book is promoted as a ‘time slip’ story, I don’t know if I’d say it fits perfectly into that category, but there is a mild paranormal element which added a little more magic to the story.
This book is a part of a series, and it is my understanding that some characters from previous installments make and appearance in this book, but it worked perfectly as a stand -alone. However, now that I’ve read this one, I want to learn more about this series!

The author did a great job of connecting the past with the present with a special story sure to be told to future generations for a long time to come- no doubt beginning with Aidan and Cassie.
Overall, this is a light, entertaining read- very enjoyable!!




GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Watch-Twilight-Choc-Hartsford-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07FJYKJ9V/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watch-Twilight-Choc-Hartsford-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07FJYKJ9V/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/watch-for-me-by-twilight-kirsty-ferry/1129514698


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009. She has had articles and short stories published in various magazines, newspapers and anthologies and was also a judge in the Paws 'n' Claws 'Wild and Free' Children's Story competition in 2011 and in 2013. 'The Memory of Snow', her first novel, was commended in the Northern Writer's Awards, shortlisted to the top five of Wyvern's novel competition in 2011 and longlisted in the Red Telephone Novel Competition in 2012. You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk

Monday, September 17, 2018

Faith by Chris Parker- Feature + Exclusive Excerpt



ABOUT THE BOOK:



After the terrifying events of Belief, Ethan Hall has been charged with multiple homicides. His trial is about to begin – will it bring closure for Marcus Kline and those he loves? Ethan has been in solitary confinement in the medical wing of a prison for several months. However officers still have to interact with him and he has hypnotised two of them to kill ex-offenders. He has also chosen to defend himself in court. Surely justice will prevail?

Faith is Chris Parker's thrilling final book in the Marcus Kline trilogy. Can Marcus Kline ultimately triumph over his deadly nemesis?



 READ AN EXCERPT:



 CHAPTER 3



Anne-Marie Wells sat bolt upright in her bed as the nightmare forced her awake. Her right hand was clutching at her chest. Her heart was thudding against her breastbone as if trying to escape. Tears were flowing down her cheeks, mixing with her sweat. The words of Ethan Hall echoed in her mind. She bit back the urge to scream with rage.

The dream had made her orgasm again, just as it had last night and the night before. He had been reappearing in her dreams, repeating the abuse, increasingly as the trial drew closer.

Ethan Hall.

The master hypnotist. The great manipulator and destroyer of lives. The man she had first seen preparing to kill her husband, Marcus Kline.

Ethan Hall.

Worse than the worst form of cancer.

Anne-Marie knew that for certain. Despite Marcus’s best efforts to save her, she had been dying of ovarian cancer when she had opened the door and looked into Ethan Hall’s penetrating eyes. He had hypnotised her effortlessly and deeply. She remembered vaguely images of green fields, of feeling she had left her body behind, that the cancer was disappearing – dissolving - as his words moved through her.

She remembered more clearly what happened next. She had no doubt that was his intention.

‘You have to show me your bedroom,’ he had said, before walking her to the stairs.

She had led the way, then laid down on the bed - this bed - because he ordered her to. The hypnotic trance he had created pinned her in place. She felt her body betray her as his words invaded deep inside, making her orgasm against her will time after time.

Ethan Hall raped her without once touching her physically.

He raped her after saving her life.

And she had told no one. She never would. It was the only certainty left in her life. He had created a secret that held her prisoner more completely than any cancerous cells ever could.

Now her illness was in remission – ‘Miraculous’, her doctors called it – and she hated herself and her life almost as much as she hated Ethan Hall.

Worse than the worst form of cancer.

Anne-Marie looked to her left. Marcus wasn’t there. Again. Third night in a row she had woken from her recurring nightmare to find herself alone.

Not so long ago, before Ethan’s arrest, before his visit, Marcus was always close by, ready to hold and comfort her whenever the cancer-dreams attacked. It was, she reflected, just as well he had been unable to sleep of late; the only thing that could make this dream worse, would be having Marcus next to her when she woke. Her very sanity depended on no one ever discovering her secret.

Anne-Marie forced herself out of the bed and crossed to the window that looked out over the rear garden and the valley beyond. He was standing in the middle of the lawn with his back to the house, just as he had been on the two previous nights.

Tonight he was looking at the earth rather than the stars.

She had wanted to move out of this rented house, but had forced herself to stay. She wanted to burn the bed, but how would she possibly have explained that to Marcus?

‘Ethan is driving us apart,’ she whispered, ‘just when we most need to be together.’

She turned away from the window. The bed dominated the room. Anne-Marie looked at the bedside clock with its illuminated hands.

4.30am.

Six hours before the trial of Ethan Hall began.

Anne-Marie shivered.



Chapter 4 Marcus Kline was oblivious to the bitter January chill, to the silence in the garden and the valley, to the darkness.

‘Perhaps we do live in a world of ghosts.’ His wife had said to him only hours after his best friend DCI Peter Jones had informed them of Ethan Hall’s arrest. ‘And, if we do, perhaps they see us as the otherworldly beings.’ A world of ghosts.

It felt increasingly as if she was right. Only the ghosts weren’t spiritual entities. They were memories; fragments of the past with lives of their own. Fragments that could whisper or shout, influence your behaviour, blind you to things happening right in front of your eyes. Fragments that reached out, morphing subtly as they shaped the present.

Marcus Kline could remember the time when he had believed himself to be the most powerful communicator alive, when his consultancy, Influence, had been in demand from leaders across the globe. But since he had become a victim of Ethan Hall and lurched terrifyingly close to a complete breakdown, that success had evaporated and the associated memories had all but disappeared over the horizon of his mind. In the forefront now were powerful, pressing images of how easily Ethan Hall had won their battle of words, of the scalpel in Ethan’s hand pressing against the skin just above his temple, of his wife’s cancer.

No matter how much Marcus wanted to believe his use of hypnosis and trance-states had played a pivotal role in AnneMarie’s incredible recovery, he simply couldn’t. The cancer, combined with a mind-numbing fear of losing his wife, had proven too much for him. He had failed the most important task he had ever undertaken. He was at once overjoyed at Anne-Marie’s return to health and deeply ashamed of his inability to help her.

And in a few, short hours the trial of Ethan Hall, his nemesis, would begin. Soon the two would be face to face for the first time since Ethan had almost killed him.

Marcus reached into his jeans pocket and took out his mobile phone. He needed to listen to Peter Jones’s voice message again. He had received it eight hours earlier. He had replayed it five times already. He pressed the phone to his ear as the familiar voice sounded.

‘I hope you are both doing your best to relax today, and that you get a good night’s sleep. If you are going to think about anything, remember what you saw and heard when we went to court last month to watch a trial in progress. You’ve been there, seen it and heard it now, so you know what to expect in terms of procedure and attitude. The only difference, as we’ve talked about, is that this is a much more high-profile trial than the one we visited. There’ll be a lot of media attention. You can expect them to focus on you and Ethan Hall equally. So use all your skills and experience to present yourself well; at all costs avoid getting drawn into any sort of confrontation with the press. Or with Ethan. Especially with him.’

‘When you are in the witness box listen carefully to each question you are asked and answer only that. Answer precisely, simply, and say nothing more than is required. If anyone can separate the question from the questioner, it’s you my friend.

Whatever you think about yourself currently, I still regard you as the best in the world at what you do. It’s crucial, though, that you avoid a communication battle with Ethan in court. It’s what he’ll want. It’s what he’ll expect. We can’t play into his hands.’

‘Leave the winning up to Mike. It’s his world. You just do everything in your power to distance yourself from the memories of what Ethan has done and deal with the present in as clean and simple a manner as possible. You can do this Marcus. Trust me. Trust yourself. Find some way to cocoon yourself from the past and from your feelings towards Ethan. This time you’ll influence best by not taking the lead.’

‘And remember what Imran, the owner of the curry house says. Everything passes. Even this. When all is said and done, Ethan Hall is just a piece of shit so let’s flush him away and move on. There are much better things to focus on in life. Right? Be brave.’

Marcus kept the phone to his ear for a few seconds, listened to the click as the call ended, listened to the silence as if there were a few final words he had missed. There was nothing. Just as there had been nothing the five times before. He returned the phone to his pocket.

Distance yourself from the memories.

He knew how. He’d helped countless other people change their relationship with past events. Only this time it was different. The memories he needed to escape from felt as if they were imprinted in the front of his brain, as if they were attached to a seemingly innocent range of objects and places he encountered every day.

Cocoon yourself.

Daren’t even try. Right now it was impossible to differentiate a cocoon from a prison cell. He felt too isolated and trapped to even consider another form of separation. Not every cocoon protects and releases life, he told himself. Some became finely woven coffins. Some things just don’t pass through easily. Some things stick and stay. And then eventually, unable to process, unable to make a clean start, the organism dies.

Marcus Kline inhaled deeply, letting the winter air chill his lungs. He wondered if Ethan Hall was having a good night’s sleep. He wondered who else was awake thinking about what the day would bring.
He glanced back at the house and decided to stay out a while longer. There was no point trying to go to sleep now. And besides, for some reason, the house felt colder than the winter air.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Based in Nottingham, Chris Parker is a specialist in Communication and Influence. A Licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Chris is a highly experienced management trainer, business consultant, lecturer and writer. Books include Influence, Belief, Campaign It, Brain Always Wins, Diego Masciaga Way, The City Fox and Debris.