Guest Post: Crafts, Choirs and the Cotswolds at Christmas by Jenny Kane

Christmas is a time for indulgence – preferably in all things sweet and fun. So, it’s with great pleasure that I welcome Jenny Kane, best-selling author of contemporary romances, to tell us all about her latest sweet treat.

Many thanks to Laura for inviting me to here today to share a little of the latest sequel in my Another Cup of… series.

Christmas in the Cotswolds200Christmas in the Cotswolds is the festive (short novella) sequel to Another Cup of Christmas – which in itself follows on from the novel, Another Cup of Coffee.

Both Another Cup of Coffee and Another Cup of Christmas are set in the Pickwicks cafe in Richmond. This year however, I’ve taken Megan, Pickwicks regular waitress, away from her day job in the suburbs of London and her colleagues, Peggy and Scott, and sent her into the countryside on a mercy mission…

Blurb Izzie Spencer-Harris, owner of the Cotswold Art and Craft Centre, is due to host the prestigious Cotswold Choir’s annual Christmas carol concert in her beautiful converted church. Or at least she was, until a storm smashed a hole right through the chancel roof. Days from Christmas, Izzie suddenly finds herself up to her neck in DIY, with her last dodgy workman having walked off the job. She does the only thing she can … calls in her best friend Megan to help. Leaving Peggy and Scott to run Pickwicks Café in her absence, Megan heads to the Cotswolds for Christmas. Within minutes of her arrival, she finds herself hunting down anyone willing to take on extra work so close to Christmas. It seems the only person available to help is Joseph Parker – a carpenter who, while admittedly gorgeous, seems to have ulterior motives for everything he does … With Izzie’s bossy mother, Lady Spencer-Harris, causing her problems at every turn, an accident at work causing yet more delays, and the date for the concert drawing ever nearer, it’s going to take a lot more than Mrs Vickers’ powerful mulled wine to make sure everything is all right on the night …

I must confess, I was a little nervous about taking Megan away from her usual coffee shop background, and her fellow Pickwicks characters. However, I would hate my readers to get bored – and so the time felt right to take Megan on a little trip!

I adore the Cotswolds, and have always wanted to write a story based there. And what better time of year to set a story in one of the most beautiful parts of England at Christmas- with a choir, romance, and an awful lot of mulled wine!

Here’s a little extract for you…

… Megan looked up from the child-sized seat where she’d been perched cutting out angel’s wings ready for the imminent arrival of a group of pre-school children, and straight into a pair of earnest green eyes that peeped through a floppy fringe of ginger hair. ‘Joseph Parker?’

‘Call me Jo. It’s an impressive space you have here.’

Pulling herself out of her snug chair, Megan shook the carpenter’s proffered hand. ‘It’s not mine. It belongs to Izzie.’

‘Miss Spencer-Harris?’

‘That’s right. I’m Megan, I’m just helping out.’

‘By making paper angels?’

Megan smiled, ‘Part of Izzie’s business includes running craft sessions; in this case for a group of nursery school children. I’m standing by with the safety scissors to play Mary Poppins while Izzie gets on with rescuing her church. As I said on the phone, everything is a bit urgent because of the Cotswold Choir coming in five days. Thanks ever so much for turning up so fast.’

‘Not at all,’ Jo pulled on a bandana, not too dissimilar from Izzie’s, wiping his fringe from his face to reveal a multitude of freckles. ‘I was having a break until the New Year, but I’m very fond of the Cotswold Choir, so I’m happy to help.’

Fishing a huge bunch of keys from his pocket Jo took a step nearer the broken chancel, ‘If I could take a look at the chancel, then I’ll fetch what I need from my van.’

The sound of scraping grew louder as they approached the chancel. Izzie was busy halfway up the ladder, clearing out old grouting before re-pointing the stones that been loosened by the fall of the branch. Knowing Izzie would be concentrating hard on what she was doing, and not wanting to startle her, Megan was cautious as she called, ‘Your knight in shining armour is here!’

Without turning, Izzie shouted down, ‘Oh God, you’re not telling me my mother has sent another no-hoper my way with wedding bells in his eyes, are you?’

Blushing, Megan tried to explain her friend’s retort, ‘I’m so sorry, Jo! Izzie’s mother is rather set on finding her daughter the perfect match, and …’

Jo laughed as he held up a hand to show it was OK. ‘Don’t worry about it. I get a fair bit of that from my own mother. It’s all, “Honestly, Joseph, you’re thirty years old, when are you going to stop playing with planks of wood, get a career, and find a nice girl?”’

Megan laughed. ‘Yes, that’s pretty much Izzie’s mother to a T as well.’

Realising that her visitor was not waiting in the south aisle as she’d assumed, but was within hearing range, Izzie hastily climbed a little further down the ladder, one hand outstretched in greeting, ‘I’m so sorry! You must be Megan’s miracle carpenter.’

‘Well it is nearly Christmas, the perfect time for miracles concerning carpenters called Joseph.’ Jo grinned, turning his already attractive face into a very handsome one. ‘Happy to help – now where would you like me to start?’

Ignoring the voice in her head that was telling her this was the first hot-looking man she’d set eyes on in ages, Izzie said, ‘Could you examine the wood in the chancel roof? The building listings people tell me, as it is case of rescuing things rather than updating them, I can replace any timber in the roof that needs replacing to keep the place safe, but I’m not sure where to start. It’s only one joist that’s cracked, but I don’t want to just wrap it in parcel tape and hope for the best.’

Jo nodded, ‘If you don’t mind climbing down I’ll take a look. Then if I fetch my ladder, we can crack on together. I should have most things I need with me, although I only guessed at the timber required. I might have to go to the timber merchants.’

Megan had a sudden sensation of being in the way, and winked up at Izzie, ‘I’ll go and make sure I have enough wings then shall I?’

Shooting Megan a look that clearly told her that she should start matchmaking at her peril, Izzie said, ‘That would be great. The children arrive at ten, and Mrs V will be here soon with today’s cakes and stuff.’

Izzie was about to climb down to make way for Jo when something in the stonework caught her eye, ‘Hang on, there’s another bit of branch got lodged on the wall here.’ Izzie tugged at it, but nothing happened. ‘Honestly, this stuff is like Velcro.’ She took her pocket knife from the bib of her dungarees and went to slice it away from the brickwork.

Jo got closer to the bottom of the ladder. ‘Hey, I’m not sure that’s a branch, It’s a bit low down; it might be a …’

But he was too late….

Although Christmas in the Cotswolds is a sequel, it can also be read as a standalone story.

If you’d like to have a read, you can buy my latest novella from all good e-retailers including-

Amazon UK- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Cotswolds-seasonal-short-story-ebook/dp/B00PK2MA3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415899501&sr=8-1&keywords=Christmas+in+the+Cotswolds+jenny+kane

Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Cotswolds-seasonal-short-story-ebook/dp/B00PK2MA3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415899535&sr=8-1&keywords=Christmas+in+the+Cotswolds+Jenny+Kane

Many thanks again Laura,

Jenny  xx

Bio-

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s third full length romance novel, Abi’s House, will be released in early 2015.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Joe’s Letter (Coming soon from Hushpuppy)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee. www.kayjaybee.me.uk

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