What’s Left Behind [Trailer]

Here’s the trailer for my crime fiction novel, What’s Left Behind.

Even the sins of the past can’t stay buried forever…

Detective Ruth Carter finds herself slap bang in the middle of a murder investigation regarding several murders in the local community. It soon becomes clear there’s a link which draws Ruth’s past and present together. Ruth’s childhood friend Jenny was murdered thirty years ago, ripping her life to shreds and is one of the reasons she became a detective. Now it appears the same killer, who calls himself ‘Prince Charming’, is on the rampage once again. Ruth and her partner, Vince Conway have until midnight to catch the serial killer before the clock strikes twelve…

Fans of Peter Robinson and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in Welsh crime fiction.

What’s Left Behind [Crime Novel]

 

Purchase book here:

I got the idea for this story after watching a real-life crime documentary about a murdered teenage girl. She set out for school one day walking through a wooded area and was never to return home again. Her body was discovered several days later, she’d been strangled. Her killer was never found, until years later, when the police discovered they still had her red duffle coat stored in a locker at the police station. There was now one major difference to how crimes were solved — DNA! And so the murder was solved.

It got me thinking, what if a young detective ended up being visited by a ghost from her past when she’s involved in a series of killings in her home town?

This is a story which dips into the past as policewoman, Ruth Carter, is forced to relive her youth once again and remember the horrific murder of her best friend, Jenny Johnson, whilst the police search for a serial killer in the community who calls himself, ‘Prince Charming’…

***

When an elderly man turns up at her police station, D.S. Ruth Carter, does not immediately recognise him. However, when she does, she is immediately transported back in time to 1980 when her best friend Jenny was murdered.

“There’s a man at the desk asking for you.” P.C. Aled Evans held the door open for her.

Sergeant Ruth Carter frowned. “What’s he want?”

The policeman scratched his head. “Dunno. Didn’t ask him.”

The bloody probationer didn’t have a clue. For goodness sake, the first rule was to prioritise, didn’t he realise that?

“Hello, Mr Johnson. I’m Detective Ruth Carter. What can I do for you?”

She detected a twinkle in his eye. “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Looking directly at her, his eyes softening, he said just one word. “Jenny.”

She fought to stop the image from entering her brain. For more than thirty years she had pushed it aside. Jenny was the reason she had gone into the police force in the first place.

Her hand flew to her mouth, her heart started to pound reminding her of all the frightening and scary events of her life.

There’s a killer on the loose who calls himself, ‘Prince Charming’, his modus operandi is to leave just one shoe on his victims. The murderer’s style is similar to the person who killed Jenny back in the eighties, but is this the same man?

Whilst the killer plays a ‘Cat and Mouse’ game with the detectives, Ruth’s personal life begins to unravel. What has her partner Pete been up to while she’s been at work? He’s been staying out over night and making excuses for his absences. Can she trust him? Particularly as he went missing the night of one of the murders.

Who is the killer is he a stranger or is he someone that she thought she knew so well?

 

What’s Left Behind [Crime Fiction Novel]

pic-for-book

Even the sins of the past can’t lay buried forever…

Detective Ruth Carter finds herself slap bang in the middle of a murder investigation regarding several murders in the local community. It soon becomes clear there’s a link which draws Ruth’s past and present together. Ruth’s childhood friend Jenny was murdered thirty years ago, ripping her life to shreds and is one of the reasons she became a detective. Now it appears the same killer, who calls himself ‘Prince Charming’, is on the rampage once again. Ruth and her partner, Vince Conway have until midnight to catch the serial killer before the clock strikes twelve…

Fans of Peter Robinson and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in Welsh crime fiction.

Excerpt

Ruth Carter was in a bad mood as she scrubbed away at the breakfast dishes with a small brush. Pete had not come home with a Chinese meal for them last night; in fact, he had not come home at all. She slammed the breakfast dishes onto the draining board and in so doing chipped her favourite mug. “Damn him!” This couldn’t go on for much longer. It was getting to be that she didn’t trust him anymore. She had so wanted to speak to him last night about Jennifer. If anyone would have understood, it would have been him. He was part of the small gang they both went around with in school and he even admitted to once fancying Jen, one night last year, when they’d both had too much to drink. Ruth had felt a little hurt when he’d said that at the time but she’d had to admit, it was no surprise.

All the boys liked Jen. She was clever, funny and most of all, very pretty. If she was being honest, although Jen was her best friend whom she admired, she was also a little envious of the girl. Throughout all these years the phrase that most ran though her mind when she thought of her was, “It could have been me.” And it could have too. What if it had been her who had stormed off that night and gone in search of a taxi? She had more than a little guilt attached to the entire scenario. Maybe it’s what led her into the police force in the first place, a way to assuage her guilt. A way to put the world to rights, by putting away the baddies out there.

She was just about to make herself another cup of tea, it was her day off and she fancied a bit of retail therapy. Pete had left his debit card behind and she’d toyed with idea of getting a wad of cash out of the cash point as a way of punishing him. She knew his pin number, it would be a doddle. She heard the sound of a vehicle outside. Oh, no, it wasn’t that bloody big white van being parked outside blocking her in again, was it? She walked over to the large window and gazed down at the car park below. It was a police van parking up. What the hell did they want on her day off? Didn’t she do enough for them already? She watched as her colleague D.C. Vince Conway alighted and jogged over to the main door. She heard a buzz and his voice came over the intercom. “Ruth are you there? I’ve been ringing you. You’re needed. Something major is kicking off.”

“Vince. I’m here. I’ll be right with you.”

What the hell was going on? It had to be something huge for them to send for her on her day off. She put on her jacket, picked up her bag and ran down the stairs, then hopped into the awaiting vehicle.

“What the hell is going on, Vince?” she asked as he started up the van, sirens blaring and speeding off before she had chance to buckle herself in.

“A body of a young girl has been found…” he glanced across at her in the passenger seat, as if gauging her reaction.

No, this couldn’t be true. “Do you mean it doesn’t look like an illness or accident?” “Nope. She was found by a pair of refuse collectors this morning, in a skip at the back of Iceland.”

“Do we have any idea who she is?”

He shrugged. “No, not yet. No one has been reported missing. The Crime Scene

Investigators are on the way and the coroner has been called for. Uniform are guarding the scene, until we get there.”

Ruth felt her heart beating hard beneath her jumper, asking herself the question: What if the note Mr Johnson received really was from ‘Prince Charming’?

Vince glanced over briefly from the steering wheel. “Come on, Ruth, I know you. Something’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. Really I…” Somehow the words were hard to find.

“Well if it’s nothing why’s your face looking pale?”

There was no kidding a kidder. Vince knew her better than anyone, better than Pete, maybe. “It’s just that man who called into the station yesterday, remember me telling you?”

“Jennifer’s father?”

“Yes. I should have taken that note more seriously. What if this is the same bloke. It might have been preventable.”

“Don’t fool yourself, Ruth. You’ve been carrying around a heavy package called ‘guilt’ for the past thirty odd years. You can’t possibly blame yourself for this one. In any case, how could any of us have protected this girl? We’d have needed to tell the female population to stay bolted in doors on a Friday night and even then, who’s to say the girl wouldn’t have been murdered in her own home anyhow? Look, you showed me that note, so I would be equally responsible, if that makes you feel any better. ‘Prince Charming’, if that’s who it was, left no clues as to who he would murder. We’ll know more after the autopsy. At this point it looks like murder, but who’s to say; maybe it’s not, just a quirk of fate, a coincidence.

Some coincidence though.

They drove through Victoria Street and were met by a uniformed police officer, who allowed them through the barrier, until they got to the back of Iceland. The police were in the process of erecting a white tent. Two scene of crime officers were taking photographs. Ruth’s eyes travelled to the half naked body of a young woman lying on the ground. Her skin was tinged blue, her eyes starring almost mockingly at her. For a fleeting second, she saw Jen’s face looking at her, seeing into her very soul.

You couldn’t help me then, you can’t help me now.

“Ruth,” Vince nudged her. “This is the pathologist, Doctor Seymour Blake. Ruth jerked back to reality. “Oh, hello Doctor. Haven’t we met some place before?”

She gazed intently into his green eyes. He was a distinguished looking man: late fifties maybe, grey hair. He smiled at her, the wrinkles around his eyes creased. “You know I do believe we have. Please refresh me?”

“You gave a talk at Police HQ several years back. I found it really interesting.”

His silver eyebrows knitted together as he thought. “Oh yes, I remember now, I’ve taken a look here, a preliminary as it were, I think this young lady has been dead for about 72 hours. We’re lucky in a way that the weather has been so cold, that metal bin has acted like a refrigerator, so the decomp is minor. We’re fortunate in that respect.”

‘Fortunate’ seemed a bad choice of wording to Ruth. “Any idea what she died of?”

Blake exhaled as the cold air collided with his warm breath. “Not at this stage. The only thing I can tell you is that there appears to be no puncture wound, so a stabbing or a gunshot is out. There’s possible asphyxiation. I noticed some petechial spots on her face – you know tiny red spots concurrent with cutting off the oxygen supply.”

Ruth pulled a pen out of her bag and recorded it in her note book. “Any distinguishing features?”

Blake shook his head. “No visible scars, but there is a tattoo of some sort on her thigh.

Would you care to take a look? The boys have photographed it closely and will blow it up.”

Ruth shuddered. The thought of drawing up close to the corpse spooked her out. It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen a dead body before, she’d seen plenty, it was just the resemblance to Jen. Although she had to admit this girl looked a few years older. She took a deep breath and kneeled down to get a better view. “No, I don’t understand what that motto or whatever it is says. It looks like some kind of foreign language to me.”

“Yes, I did think at first it might be Latin, but this young lady doesn’t look the intellectual type to me.” Ruth had to admit that she didn’t think so either. “Oh, there’s one other thing. The shoes…there’s one missing…”

Ruth looked down and saw that the girl was wearing one red stiletto. She brought her hands to her mouth in horror and turning said, “Vince, it has to be him…”

Purchase book here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06W5FHLM3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thicker than Blood by Thea Hartley

 

 

 

When coalminer Davy is seriously injured in a pit accident it makes life very hard for him and his wife Marie. It is 1940 and besides the constraints of rationing, they become poor and I’ll. in desperation, Marie takes a job in a local factory, earning money for her family. She meets the charismatic Tony who had been invalided out of the forces. They fall in love and she feels happier than she has ever been. However everything has consequences and Marie finds herself in a desperate and devastating situation.

Amazon reviews!

  • Marie and Davy go through so much together in this book full of twists and turns. I really enjoyed it and feel it is the best-book-to-date by this author.
  • A great book which mixes fiction with historical and social values of the time period
  • An absolute page turner which you won’t be able to put down!
  • A Highly recommended read!
  • It is a heartwarming story and a very moving read, I didn’t want to put it down!
  • Thicker Than Blood is very much a story of loyalty, bonds and friendship. A highly enjoyable read.

 

 

 

Interview with Romance Novelist: Clare Connelly

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Hi Clare, welcome to my blog. I first became aware of you as an author just over a year ago and was blown away by how many books you’ve published and how popular they are. How old were you when you first started writing and what sort of things did you write about?

Hi Lynette, Thanks for having me! I have always, always written but I began to write actual books when I was thirteen and submitted my first novel to Harlequin at fifteen. It was wisely rejected, as it was pretty terrible (it’s almost like they know a thing or two about romance writing!). I continued to write though, working on cooking blogs, research pieces and always books in the background. I have been told ‘write what you love to read’ so for me that is overwhelmingly recipes and romance.

You write contemporary romances, why did you choose that particular genre?

I don’t think I chose it… it chose me. I met my first Harlequin hero when I was around eleven. My mum is an antique dealer and she used to drag my sisters and me into these dusty old shops. We would beeline for the books –there are always books in these places— and stock up on whatever took our fancy.

I just gravitate towards writing romance. Even when I start writing something else, it turns into romance. I see the shape of the story in my head. 50,000 words is challenging, because there’s a lot to convey in a relatively small book – characters need to have depth and heart, and the reader has to be pulling for them from the first page.

How many books to date have you published?

I’ve self-published over forty-three unique titles (circa 50,000 words) and more than six anthologies. My first, THE ITALIAN BILLIONAIRE’S BETRAYAL, continues to sell well.

Which book is your best seller?

I would find it hard to say, but a consistent top seller is Seducing the Spaniard. It’s also one of my favourites, because the heroine is a little bit messed up but oh, so likeable and the hero adores her but tries to make her see sense in all the wrong ways! I have a great following for my Sheikh books, and I always love to write them. My first best seller was At the Sheikh’s Command.

Who do you think is your core reader?

I would say overwhelmingly women. I don’t think age is an issue to enjoying romance – I know I have some readers who are late teens and I think good love stories appeal to all generations. My biggest markets globally are America, India and the United Kingdom, in that order, followed closely by Australia and Canada.

Could you tell us a little about your typical writing day?

I work full-time as a writer, but I do juggle this with being at home with two children – a six year old son and a four year old daughter. I published my first book mid-2014, and at that point was up to my arms in toddler business. I had to be very disciplined to get my words down, but I knew I had limited time in which to make this dream come true – I was coming to the point where I was itching to be working again. I was blessed with children who napped well and I ran our schedule with military precision, ensuring they were worn out in the mornings so that they would nap at precisely noon, allowing me to sit and tap out words. There were days when they wouldn’t oblige with sleep, of course, and that could be frustrating. But as soon as my husband would arrive home, I scurried into our room with my laptop and picked up the slack.

Things are easier now. I have the confidence that I can write and the assuredness that this is my career, so I don’t feel guilty about making proper dedicated time to write. My husband is very supportive. I wake early and immediately set to work. Most days I get out two thousand words before I have to start processing the kids for school or the day ahead.

But I’m a compulsive writer and I tend to do between 8,000 and 10,000 words per day when I’m in a book – I wrote 14,000 words the other day because I really could not step away from the story. It comes to me fully formed and I just want to get the words out while they’re flowing. I know not all authors write like this but for me, it works.

Where’s your favourite place to write?

I’m a coffee shop writer – by necessity. We have a fabulous nanny who helps with the kids and on the days she’s with them, I leave the house. I just need my computer and headphones… and a seat with wifi!

Who are your favourite authors?

I’m a Harlequin Presents girl through and through. I love Penny Jordan, Emma Darcy, Sharon Kendrick, Helen Bianchin, Maisey Yates, Amy Andrews and from the general romance writing shelves Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell… And from the non-romance stable, Kate Morton of course, Roald Dahl, Stephen King (the master of narrative!), JK Rowling, of course, Dr Seuss.

Who inspires you?

John Lasseter, who was the creative genius behind Pixar. He had been fired from Disney for trying to revolutionise animation and encourage it towards computer animating and he went on to found Pixar. I watch ‘The Pixar Story’, a documentary on his journey, at least once a year. His determination and vision literally turned the industry on its head. Interestingly, Steve Jobs, another visionary I revere, was a vital part of Pixar, bank rolling it from his own pocket because he believed so greatly in the work they were doing.  Speaking of which, Meredith Wild is my book idol. Not just because she writes fantastic stories, but because she’s parlayed her talent into a scorching self-published career, a seven figure book deal, and has now started her own publishing house, Waterhouse Press, which represents standout bestsellers like Audrey Carlan. I think she’s an incredible writer and business woman.

It was lovely to hear your fantastic news that you’ve had a manuscript accepted for publication by Harlequin Books. Where were you when you got ‘The Call’ and how did you react?

It was utterly surreal! I was sitting at my tiny, paint-stained kitchen table with my husband getting the kids to bed in the background (and all the noise that brings). I thought Megan (Haslam, my delightful editor) was calling to chat about the plot I’d put forward. The offer of a two book deal knocked me sideways! It was less than two months after I’d met with Joanne Grant of Harlequin UK at a romance conference, where I pitched myself to her, so it happened really quickly, exceeding all my expectations! I remember putting the phone down and just staring out of the window, unable to process the fact that my longest-held dream was actually happening.

I was just about to speak to my husband about it (he’d already popped the bubbly, having gathered the gist) when my phone buzzed with a twitter notification and the lovely team at Harlequin were announcing that I was on-board. Their enthusiasm and support is something I will never forget.

Can you tell readers a little about that particular book?

Happily! Nikos and Marnie were teen sweethearts but he was never deemed good enough for her aristocratic family. He’s paid off by Marnie’s father to leave her alone and, having just lost her sister, Marnie doesn’t want to upset her parents further by fighting for Nikos and their relationship. Fast forward six years and her rejection has spurred Nikos on to become the kind of man he thinks she wants. He’s a self-made tycoon, and he wants her back… He propositions Marnie, using her family’s dire financial standing to give her the right incentive. Love for her family sees her agree to marry him … but their past is a big black hole that neither can forget.

I’m really intrigued by the notion of good people, who are deeply in love, being driven to do the wrong thing. Love is a complex business and when hurt feelings, betrayal and our duty to others come into play, it can be very hard to simply grab what you want with both hands.

It was a labour of love to write this; as with all my books, it’s full of passion, glamour, angst and heart.

Have you got any new works in progress?

I’m always writing! I was commissioned to write an episode in an upcoming Harlequin serial – a fascinating project which sees twelve authors from various Harlequin lines come together to write a racy, exciting twelve episode novel. I’m also working on my second Harlequin Presents novel and I have the second two books in a trilogy due out over the next four months. I also have a really great agent who’s shopping a book I wrote which doesn’t fit squarely into category or romance. It’s a romantic thriller with a really likeable, sassy heroine and a hero who is closed off and enigmatic… but exactly what our lady needs. I’m excited to see what, if anything, happens with this book.

If there was one country in the world you could visit, where would that be?

I’ve been really lucky to have travelled quite a bit but I’ve only ever flown in and out of America. Until the political climate there shifted, I would have said that I’m desperate to spend six months in New York, visiting a different state each month for a long weekend, but really immersing myself in American life. Now, I’m not so sure I could plan for that.

Australia is a beautiful country, and I’ve seen an embarrassingly small amount of it, unlike my husband. As  a child, his parents drove everywhere. He’s swum with fresh water crocs in the northern territory, eaten pearl shell meat from Paspaley pearls, flown in a helicopter over the Bungle Bungles, climbed Uluru (Ayers Rock)  back when you still could. I’d really like to tick some of those boxes.

What are your goals for 2017?

Good question! I have type one diabetes and I’ve found juggling the demands of small-children and establishing my writing career have made it difficult to give my health the attention it deserves. It’s a bit of a cliché but I’d like to really focus on being more active this year. Walks are a great way to get the creative juices flowing, and I generally love healthy food. But wine, oh, wine! My weakness. Writing at night with a bucket of shiraz is my guilty pleasure… I’m going to have to try to swap in herbal tea, though!

How will you spend Valentine’s day?

I am going to thwart my New Year’s Resolution and cook creamy, yummy French food that is most definitely not good for me – and wash it down with delicious champagne! We celebrate as a family, generally. The kids make decorations and help me bake love-heart themed food (loaves of bread, biscuits).

And finally, where can readers find you on social media and where can they purchase your books?

My website has links to my books www.clareconnelly.com and I am on facebook, twitter, Instagram, and pinterest. I’m turning into a bit of a pinterest addict, actually – it’s too much fun!

The Workhouse Waif [Available now!]

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The perfect heartwarming romance, rich in historical detail.

When she returned to the Workhouse, the dark foreboding building made her stomach lurch, it was then she realised that she had never been allowed out of its confines on her own during the hours of darkness before, that was another strike against her. It had been daylight when she’d departed…

Eleven-year-old, Megan Hopkins, is an inmate at Merthyr Tydfil Union Workhouse. Megan’s family has fallen on hard times. Her hardworking collier father, was killed in a mining accident at Castle Pit Troedyrhiw, and her mother has six mouths to feed, besides her own, so they all find themselves interned at the local workhouse.

One day, Megan has been asked by the matron to fetch some shopping as there’s a Board of Guardians meeting that afternoon, she is skipping past the Temperance Hall holding a wicker basket in her hand, when she’s stopped in her tracks by the most melodious voice she has ever heard in her life. It’s the voice of an angel, called, Kathleen O’Hara.

Megan doesn’t realise it, but their paths are about to cross and maybe a little magic is about to occur…

Available here in Kindle and Paperback formats! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Workhouse-Waif-Winds-Fortune-Book-ebook/dp/B01M8JN9H4