- Author: Jan Ruth
- Published: April 2017 by Celtic Connections
- Category: Contemporary, Drama, Fiction
A rosy future seems certain but Laura has some tough decisions to make.
Maggie is devastated by her daughter’s plans, but Jess is determined to remove the past from her life no matter the upset it will cause. James is no longer running from his past, but a multitude of unresolved issues are set to catch up with Laura.
The third in the Midnight Sky trilogy, Strawberry Sky continues James and Laura’s story. Despite the terrible life changing accident James suffered several months previously, things are at last looking up for the two of them, despite Laura’s overwhelming desire to be a mother. Work is progressing on the house and the business is expanding, with the addition of a young, orphaned Carneddau strawberry roan and a newcomer to the team with whom Laura develops an affinity. Continue reading
I’m very pleased to welcome Tina on the last day of her blog tour, as she talks about her ongoing passion for horses.
MY LOVE OF HORSES
My love affair with horses began before I can remember. At 18 months, I was too young for pony rides, but the gypsies lent me a horse to lead up and down the beach with the dictum “Tina must have horses”. Right then and there I must have been hooked! A few years later an elderly mare named Jemma taught me how to ride. Though she lived in a field my parents owned, she belonged to someone else. I had to mostly make do with riding schools and because I knew how to ride, I was always given the naughty ponies, the ones who skied, bucked and ran away. I soon learned to fall off gracefully, a skill which came in very handy! Summers on the Isle of Wight were better. They were spent happily riding with a troupe of local children who, much to my envy, were allowed to wear t-shirts and jeans, while I was trussed up in jodhpurs and a riding jacket. But that didn’t spoil the fun of trekking across the island, until we reached a deserted beach and could let our ponies gallop beside the water. Continue reading
Today, I’m very pleased to welcome Rebecca Hubbard, author of The Gift, which is more than just a lovely story for children.
“Inspiration for The Gift”
I am asked frequently what was the inspiration for “The Gift.” Though it was not one thing, some interactions I witnessed between a girl and a horse made me think about the nature of relationships, how they develop and what causes them to begin well or never begin at all. I was struck by the girl’s immediate professed love for a being she just met, her need to have his attention, and her insatiable need to have his adoration. When the horse did not acknowledge her she was heartbroken and said she felt very rejected. The lopsided feelings in this interaction made me curious how that happened. What was the girl thinking that caused her to love the horse so much without knowing him? What caused her to feel so heartbroken and rejected when he acted as if she was invisible? What was the horse thinking and feeling that caused him to react in that manner? The girl after all was in his space. Yet, he did not acknowledge her, not with an eye, an ear…nothing. She did not exist as far as he was concerned. Why? He would have given a fly some attention but not her. What was it about this interaction that caused that reaction? These were the things I wondered about for a long time. Continue reading
- Author: Jan Ruth
- January 2016 by Celtic Connections
- Category: Contemporary Fiction, Drama
A golden promise for the future in a lonely palomino mare, but life deals a cruel hand for James and Laura.
James is still running from the past after the loss of his wife, and a devastating accident forces him to face his final demons, but at what cost? Laura is forced deeper into his rural world – a life she once despised – but discovers empathy and hope in the palomino mare she calls Song.
Repercussions abound for Maggie too, when the full extent of her daughter’s dangerous liaison comes to light, leaving the entire family in turmoil. Will James and Laura ever find a golden future, or has life dealt too vicious a blow?
Palomino Sky is the sequel to the wonderful Midnight Sky, where we first meet Laura and James and their siblings, and are drawn into their complicated family lives. James and Laura, both recovering from momentous and traumatic life events, are finding solace in each other, although they are not helped by Laura’s wilful and temperamental teenage niece causing no end of trouble. Continue reading
- Author: Georgia Rose
- Published: September 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Category: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Romance
…he moved closer and slowly ran the point of his blade along my jaw line as he spoke softly, intimately, to me. “So, you are Trent’s woman. Now that is very…appealing.” I glared back at him silently.
There’s a marked increase in the action and pacing in the second of The Grayson Trilogy and I was hooked into the story from the beginning. Emma Grayson has survived the traumas life hurled at her in A Single Step and has gained in confidence and strength. She and Trent are learning to trust in each other as their relationship deepens although Trent, by Emma’s reckoning, is still overly protective and possessive. Her emotions are complicated but the dawning acceptance of her feelings is more apparent.
To all outside appearances Melton Manor is an agricultural farm, but the people who live and work there are involved in supporting Cavendish and Trent in their undercover operations for MI6. When Cavendish is targeted after he and Trent help to break up a Russian criminal organisation everyone is put on high alert. Circumstances, however , are about to throw them and the residents of Melton Manor into a perilous situation. When danger materializes Emma, Grace and the children are caught in the cross fire and Emma needs all her resources to protect those she holds dear.
Trent looked around the room again before he went on. “This is only an initial briefing, and I’m going to hand back to Cavendish shortly, but before I do, I want to be very clear. This type of situation is the reason why we’ve all been brought together. This is what we’ve planned for, this is what we’ve trained for and it is our expectation that you will support us in the actions we’re gong to be taking.”
The suspense and tension begin to build almost immediately with the impending threat, and increase as events unfold, escalating into a totally action packed sequence which paints vivid (and scary) images. Emma really shows what she’s made of and the huge leaps she’s made in personality and spirit. I love the way Emma and Trent’s characters are evolving, he trying to lessen his vigilance where Emma is concerned, while she is becoming less focused on being self-reliant and stubborn and is therefore able to accept more from Trent. She’s faced and come to terms with past losses which has made her stronger and able to commit to another relationship.
There are hints that all wasn’t quite as straight forward as first supposed with Emma’s childhood and adoptive parents, and an intriguing part of the attack on the manor is left unanswered, to be resolved in the third instalment of the trilogy. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
- Author: Georgia Rose
- Published: February 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Category: Romantic Drama, Contemporary
Emma Grayson was left devastated when her life was torn apart by tragedy and betrayal. Now someone believes it’s time for her to start again and puts an advert for a job through her door which leads her to the Melton Estate. Despite her desire for a solitary existence she finds herself discovering a life she could never have imagined, challenging her independence, her fears and her resistance to love.
Emma Grayson desperately needs a fresh start after a devastating personal trauma compounded by a betrayal she couldn’t comprehend. She secures a job with Lord Cavendish of Melton Manor Estate, managing the stables and looking after the horses, after the advert for the job had been posted to her anonymously. Hurt beyond measure and disillusioned, she is wary of getting close to anyone again and just wants to get on with her job and be left alone. The community on the Estate is a tight knit one though and Emma soon finds herself, almost against her will, being drawn in and actually enjoying making new friends.
I’d also mulled over who had put this through my letterbox in the first place, dismissing most of the names I came up with and leaving me with one suspect. My still viciously raw feelings towards her and the thought of her motivation for doing this was to get me to move away almost made me tear it up. In the end, however, so as not to spite myself, I’d written a curriculum vitae, attached it to an email as requested, and sent it together with a covering letter.
The story is told in the first person by Emma, which gives the tragedy she suffered even more poignancy and engenders a deep sympathy and understanding for her. Despite her initial contrary attitude with people, it’s easy to like her and very obvious she loves the horses and her dog, Susie.
The suspense builds slowly and, with little hints dropped about Emma’s self-defense abilities, you know something is looming, and Emma’s skills are displayed unexpectedly during a night out. And as the sparks begin between Emma and Trent, it becomes apparent he has secrets of his own which he’s unwilling to talk about.
Really good, strong portrayals of Trent, enigmatic and aloof, and Emma, stubborn and edgy, and their personalities develop as the story progresses. The other characters, although likeable, were slightly less well-rounded but hopefully will come into their own as the series moves forward. The setting and atmosphere of the estate is created in such detail it’s easy to have a mental picture running with the narrative. And, although I’m not a horsey person, I found the descriptions of work at the stables and the horses interesting to read.
There are a lot of surprises revealed along the way, character wise, and even the estate isn’t quite what it seems. Melton Manor has an air of mystery about it as Lord Cavendish and his right hand man, Trent, disappear on business trips several times in the Estate’s helicopter and the male staff all belong, in some capacity, to the military.
Well written and entertaining, I enjoyed the storyline and look forward to following on with the series.
- Author: Jan Ruth
- Published: October 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
How can we harness the future if the past will not set us free? An emotive story of love, loss and letting go. Opposites attract? Laura Brown, interior designer and James Morgan-Jones, horse whisperer – and Midnight Sky, a beautiful but damaged steeplechaser. Laura seems to have it all, glamorous job, charming boyfriend. Her sister, Maggie, struggles with money, difficult children and an unresponsive husband. She envies her sister’s life, but are things as idyllic as they seem? She might be a farmer’s daughter but Laura is doing her best to deny her roots, even deny her true feelings. Until she meets James, but James is very married, and very much in love, to a wife who died two years ago. They both have issues to face from their past, but will it bring them together, or push them apart?
Many thanks to Jan Ruth for sending me an e-copy as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.
James is a widower and, in the two years since his wife’s sudden death, has built an impenetrable wall around himself and is in a very dark place emotionally. He runs an equestrian centre with his sister, Liz, and finds it hard to anything much else other bury himself in work until he, literally, drops with fatigue.
Laura and her lover, Simon, run a property development and interior design company and are working and living together. Laura and Simon had an affair while Simon was still married, and his bitter and resentful wife seems to be permanently in the picture. Consequently things are not going too well and when Laura suffers a harrowing trauma her relationship goes from bad to worse.
Maggie, Laura’s sister, is having seemingly insurmountable problems of her own, money worries, her insensitive husband and her pretty but offensive teenage daughter. Her younger daughter, Ellie, has mild autism which is helped by her riding lessons with James, but Maggie doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be able to afford them. On top of all that she’s waging a losing battle with her weight.
“This is Laura Brown of Dragon Designs,” Liz said, firmly. “Laura, this is my brother, James.”
Laura scrambled to her feet. “Hi,” she said, offering her hand. It seemed an age before he accepted. It was a reassuringly firm grip, but he couldn’t have cared less who she was or what she had to say. He had very dark, green eyes, like seaweed or olives. They were sad eyes, she remembered thinking later.
All the involved story threads are woven together beautifully and, one way or another, the colourful array of characters manage to bring out the best qualities in each other. Midnight Sky encompasses such a lot, emotional highs and lows, relationships, heartache and not to mention a good dose of teenage angst. The story is set mainly in Snowdonia, which is described in evocative detail, giving a vivid sense of place.
Jan Ruth’s writing flows easily and the story is captivating and poignant. The complete mixture of emotions are conveyed with such realism and sensitivity I couldn’t help but empathise. James, suffering so much torment and yet so patient and gentle with his horses, especially the damaged, untrusting Midnight Sky, and the children he takes for specialist teaching. He is a complicated and compelling man. Laura and Maggie are both facing critical and life changing situations and learning how to deal with them.
All the characters are genuine and credible and penned sympathetically. I was drawn completely into their lives almost without realising it. Very nearly a fly on the wall. I loved it!
This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
About the author
Jan Ruth was born in Bowden, Cheshire, and moved to North Wales in 1998, although she has always maintained a strong connection with the area from a much earlier age. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her books.
Jan started writing at primary school, winning prizes for poetry and short stories. Her first novel attracted a London agent, but failed to find the right niche with a publisher because it didn’t fall into a specific category-not quite light enough for romance but not literary fiction either, sitting somewhere between these two genres. Her second novel, again snapped up by a London agent; suffered the same fate. Undeterred, Jan has continued to write, believing her market is out there.
Jan writes contemporary women’s fiction. Love stories with strong, identifiable characters, about family life and relationships.