Good afternoon Everyone and a warm welcome to you. Thank you for visiting last week for my guest blog with Suzie Carr. It was a huge turnout.
Jamie Barker is an architect who immediately caught my attention as I remembered my good days as a CAD drafter for various architectural firms. She has a caring heart and wants the best for others. I found her to be too nice to some people as if she is afraid to hurt their feelings. Jamie’s career comes first and her social life second. She isn’t close with her family and only talks to them rarely. However, she is tired of being single and wants someone in her life. She cherishes her father and frequently reminisces about the good times she had with him. She is tough and has made her own way in the architectural world where alpha males dominate.
Kate is the other protagonist who is trying to save a failed relationship. She is quick and doesn’t put up with nonsense. She looks out for people even when she is hurting. One of her family members likes to meddle with her affairs.
Alex is Jamie’s best friend but has questionable motives. I found her to be very daring and almost to the point of being obnoxious. Her character created some really good drama for the story. I felt she was a burden to Jamie.
A secondary character is a complete sleazeball. The description of this guy is chilling and his actions concern me. He may disturb sensitive people with some of the things he says.
There is plenty of drama including backstabbing in the book which makes an interesting story. When you learn the truth about Jamie, you’ll be surprised. The reaction from the other party is priceless.
What I like about this story was that the lovers don’t jump into bed in the first part of the book. There is a lot of caring and nurturing going on before the big event happens. I enjoyed watching the friendship develop.
I love how strong the characters are. They are not the type of women who squeal when they are in danger. These women fight back. I love how they take ownership of their lives instead of blaming any pitfalls on external stimuli. I learned some things as a result of reading this book and I thank the author for providing some words of wisdom.
The book has very good descriptions. In one scene I felt like I was in a gothic church bar. The pace is moderate and is pretty easy reading. It took me about 5 hours to read this and I would recommend one sitting. If you love London as much as I do, you’re going to be in for a real treat. I am recommending this book for everyone who loves a good read.
Here is an excerpt to get you started:
Jamie scanned the length of the street, searching for a shop doorway in which to shelter. She crossed a narrow, one-way side road. A flashing neon sign caught her eye, so she made a dash for it. Getting nearer, she was relieved to see a luminous ‘open’ sign above the door of a bar called Alchemy. Why had she never noticed this place before?
Chest still tight, Jamie stopped briefly in the dark entryway. She didn’t generally wander into bars alone – much less ones she had never been in before. The splash of running footsteps and high-pitched squeals came up from behind her. Jamie wasn’t the only one caught out by the rain.
“’Scuse us, love,” said the taller of the two women. They manoeuvred past her down a few steps and pulled open the door, wobbling on silly-inch heels.
Jamie stepped to one side. The sticky heat of the bar wafted out from inside. She leaned across the small stairwell and spontaneously grabbed for the door handle before it closed. Decision made! Following in the wake of the two women, she was immediately hit by the heady smell of candles and burnt orange peel.
She entered a dim, vault-like archway. A converted Victorian cellar, walls bare brick and floor of paving slabs and cobblestones. Antique, dark-wood tables were occupied by chattering groups of people, huddled around free-flowing candles in bottles that had left rivulets of white lava on the tables. Wall-mounted church candles continued the theme. They had dripped down the black cast – iron brackets, creating fragile stalactites of wax.
Various bottles were lined up along glass shelves, spanning the length of the wall behind the bar. They were cleverly backlit to illuminate the range of coloured liquids like an apothecary’s hoard. Behind the shelves were mirrors, creating the illusion of opulence and spaciousness. The bar curved towards the back of the maze-like building and disappeared into the depths of three other dimly lit arches.
It was at least fifteen minutes since Jamie had escaped. Surely, by now, Alex must have noticed that she had left the pub, and be wondering where she had got to? Jamie took out her phone. Useless. The battery was flat. Three more people crashed their way through the door – wet through but laughing and immensely pleased to have found shelter. This wasn’t just a short summer shower, it seemed. Resigned to the possibility that she was going to be stuck here longer than she’d expected, Jamie decided to make the most of it. Besides, after the night she’d just had, she needed.
Seizing the opportunity, she headed for a newly vacant barstool and reached into her jeans pocket, flinching at a stab of pain from her wrist. She pulled out a scrunched-up ten-pound note and some loose coins. If this was all the cash she had, she wouldn’t be able to afford the cab fare home, as well as a nightcap. What the hell. Home would have to wait. It would be easier to solve the problem of the lost keys later in the day when she was thinking more clearly.
Jamie leant across the bar to pick up a cocktail menu. Pushing her sodden fringe from her eyes, she skimmed down the page in search of the cheapest drinks. Drops of rain from her hair smudged the ink. Wiping the menu with her sleeve only made it worse. Now the print was only partially legible – hopeless without her reading glasses.
The bartender came to the rescue. “Here, use this to dry yourself off.” She offered Jamie the linen cloth over her shoulder. “It’s only been used to polish the glasses. It’s clean.”
“Thanks.” Jamie could feel her usually sculpted, spiked hair was now a flattened, dripping mullet. She quickly rubbed her head and handed back the cloth, catching her reflection in the glass behind the bottles. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but she didn’t want to draw attention to herself by fussing further over her hairstyle malfunction.
To preserve the illusion of composure, Jamie casually peeled off her wet jacket. For the first time, she took a proper look at her recent purchase. Bleach-splashed, augmented with chains, zips and safety pins, patched with badges and odd squares of tartan, it really was dreadful. Jamie gave it a shake and draped it over the seat of her barstool. She sat down on the makeshift cushion. Her comfort, however, was short-lived – damp started seeping into the seat of her jeans. She shifted her weight uneasily, trying to look as though she was concentrating on a replacement cocktail menu.
“Typical English weather,” the bartender smirked. She slid a bowl of peanuts in front of Jamie. “What can I get you?” She made eye contact.
Jamie held her gaze. “Surprise me,” she said, realising she hadn’t yet selected a cocktail. “It’ll have to be under a tenner, though.” She apologetically smoothed out the ten-pound note onto the counter.
“I’m guessing this is hair-of-the-dog time?”
“You wouldn’t be wrong there.”
“Well, now, let me see…” The waitress turned to scan the bottles on the shelves, giving her concoction careful consideration. She took what appeared to be a jar of marmalade from the chiller cabinet. Then the theatre of her art began.
Jamie watched her pour the contents of a bright orange bottle into a shaker full of crushed ice. She lost track after that. A skilfully trained mixologist, this woman provided the full works, and Jamie appreciated the spectacle of her juggling act.
Eventually, tasting from the end of a dipped-in straw, and approving of her creation with a nod, the bartender finally offered a lighter flame to a slither of orange peel, twisted it and dropped it in the drink. Routine complete, she stood back, waiting for Jamie’s reaction.
“I feel like I should be holding up score cards after that performance.” Jamie took a long sip. Still drinking, she gave a thumbs up. “Oh, wow, now that’s good.”
“What is it?”
The woman tapped the cocktail menu in front of Jamie. “Call it breakfast.”
Jamie read: Marmalade Martini. She liked this woman’s sense of humour. “Any toast and a mug of breakfast tea to go with that?”
The bartender turned to serve the next customer.
“What do I owe you?” Jamie picked up the ten-pound note and waved it in her direction.
The bartender glanced back. “On the house,” she replied with a smile.
A free drink? Why? Jamie watched the bartender fill the customer’s order, then take a wineglass from the rack before returning to Jamie’s section of the counter.
“It’s okay,” the woman added. “I’m the owner of this place.” She slowly polished the wineglass. “Anyhow, you look like you could do with a nightcap,” she said with a wink. “Heavy night, was it?”
“A free drink? I must really look rough if you thought I needed alcohol that badly.” Jamie noticed the smile lines around the woman’s eyes and mouth – deep and expressive. Jamie was an ‘eyes’ woman, and this woman used hers to communicate. Trying not to stare, Jamie took note of her simple, almost symmetrical, pear-shaped face. She had a strong, strikingly chiselled chin, and a slight Romanesque bump on the bridge of her nose. Her highlighted auburn hair was centre-parted and pulled back over her ears into a short ponytail, barely reaching the base of her neck. Was she wearing makeup? If so, it was expertly applied. For a fleeting moment, Jamie toyed with the possibility of there being a shared chemistry worth pursuing here.
But the woman’s attention had already turned, as a new person’s custom proved more appealing. Jamie watched, mesmerised, as the bartender held the gaze of the next guy at the bar, striking up a similarly attentive conversation with him. There was something about her; he, too, appeared taken in by her charm.
Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Be sure to come by next week when I’ll be featuring something new.
Until Next Time,
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