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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Alice James has been a drifter her whole life, working her way through several foster homes before ending up in Wychwood-on-Lea, feeling anchorless and invisible. When a chance encounter leads to Alice accepting a position as a caretaker and companion to Lady Stokeley, she starts to feel as if she might finally be able to put down some roots and live the way other people do.

Then, Lady Stokeley’s nephew, city banker Henry Trent, storms into Willoughby Manor, seeming to find fault with everything, including Alice. As the next in line to the manor and title, he threatens to upturn everything she’s started to build. But Henry is hiding his own secret fears and weaknesses, ones he's desperate for no one to discover. A surprising and inconvenient attraction that simmers between them leaves Alice feeling more confused than ever, and Henry torn between duty and desire, fear and love.

When circumstances become even more difficult, both Alice and Henry must decide who they really are, and what they are willing to fight for. Could Alice possibly the next Lady of Willoughby Manor?

Author Bio:

Kate Hewitt is the author of over 60 novels of romance and women’s fiction. An American ex-pat and former diehard New Yorker, she now lives in a market town in South Wales with her husband, five children, and overly affectionate Golden Retriever. To learn more about Kate, check out her website, or join her Facebook Kate’s Reads.

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Henry walked quickly and, as he moved, Alice caught the subtle scent of his aftershave, something that smelled expensive and woodsy, if the smell of trees could even be considered expensive.
The stairs creaked in protest under their steps and Alice swung her gaze away from Henry’s lean back to glance around her. Just like downstairs, everything up here looked musty and old. Oil paintings were crammed on the walls, and the carpet and wallpaper were in near tatters.
“This place would be great at Halloween,” Alice said, and only when Henry looked back sharply did she realize that she hadn’t made the most tactful comment. But it was hard to ignore the state of Willoughby Manor, especially if she was going to live here. What on earth was her bedroom going to look like?
“You have to admit, this place is pretty decrepit,” she said, and Henry did not deign to reply. What a surprise.
He led her down the upstairs hallway, over more threadbare carpets that looked as if they’d been expensive and plush a generation or three ago. They passed several doors of heavy, panelled wood, and then he finally stopped in front of one. Alice skidded to a halt next to him.
Creeeeak. The sound of the door opening was worthy of a horror movie. Henry stepped inside and Alice followed, inhaling dust as she blinked in the gloom. The thick velvet drapes, now of an indeterminate colour, had been drawn shut and the room was very dark.
So dark, in fact, that she stumbled into Henry, colliding with the solid wall of his chest, before he gripped her by the upper arms and thrust her away from him.
Blushing hotly and grateful for the darkness, Alice decided she would pretend that hadn’t happened. Henry moved over to the wall and flicked on the light, which were single-bulb wall sconces and barely brightened the room.
Even so, Alice could see enough to realize her potential accommodation was in an awful state. Everything was dusty, musty, and threadbare, and it looked as if some mice had got into the mattress, judging from the neat little pile of shredded cotton and mouse droppings on the floor by the bed.
“It needs some work,” Henry said after a moment, and Alice simply stared at him. She’d lived in a lot of places, a lot of awful places, but nothing like this.
And yet, she was hardly going to complain, was she? She needed this job too much. What was a little dust, anyway? Or a mouse or two, for that matter?
Henry was looking around the room with his narrowed eyes and pursed lips, a look that Alice suspected was usual for him. She stayed where she was, waiting, although for what she wasn’t sure.
“It will look better with a good clean,” she offered, because she felt like something needed to be said. “And some new, um, sheets.” Preferably new everything, but sheets most definitely.
Henry let out a heavy sigh and then shook his head. “This room is entirely unsuitable.”
Alice blinked. “It… is?”
“You can’t stay here.”

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