Set against a gloriously rugged Cornish backdrop, two lives are about to be changed for ever… The book to fall in love with this summer – perfect for fans of Fern Britton, Liz Fenwick and Veronica Henry.
Oliver Foxley is an acclaimed movie star and global heartthrob. But under the glare of the spotlight his ‘perfect’ life – and marriage -is slowly starting to crumble.
Cara Penhaligon is a struggling young Cornish artist, and widowed mother of two children. Life has been unbearably harsh to Cara, but meeting Oliver might just give her a second chance at the happiness she deserves. As each begins to heal the other, the pieces of Oliver’s frustrating jigsaw puzzle effortlessly fall into place. But as the Cornish summer draws to a close, Oliver faces the toughest of choices, and no one emerges quite as they were at the start.
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‘We love the way your daughter has captured the Minack Theatre under a clear night sky,’ he says, and Carol knows he’s being kind and putting her at her ease.
‘Yes, it’s a very different take,’ she mutters, a range of emotions surging through her. With a deep breath she continues, ‘So many artists paint it looking down at the amphitheatre and out to sea, but Cara’s ‘eye’ visualises images in a very different way. This view, I think, has certainly caught the atmosphere of the place.’
‘Indeed,’ the man says. ‘How much is it?’
‘Seven hundred and fifty.’
He glances at his companion, an unspoken communication passing between them. ‘We’ll take it.’
‘And I’ll have these driftwood photo frames as well,’ adds the woman. ‘Samantha will love them.’
Concentrating hard on walking across the gallery, Carol lifts the canvas from the easel. She wraps it carefully, places it in a large, white bag on which ‘The Art Shack’ is printed in vibrant peacock blue and props it against the counter. Then, wrapping the driftwood frames in tissue paper, she places these in another bag.
‘If you’re still here next week you may be interested to know my daughter is having an exhibition in Truro starting on Monday,’ Carol says, amazed that she’s managed a complete sentence without stuttering. She slides the credit-card machine over the counter towards the man.
‘Unfortunately we’re leaving tomorrow,’ the woman says.
‘That’s a shame. Have you been staying locally?’
The woman surveys her coolly. Instantly, Carol feels she’s overstepped the mark, but why? She was only being friendly.
‘Not far,’ the woman replies in a noncommittal manner.
Carol hands the man his card and receipt.
‘Please tell your daughter we will treasure this painting,’ he says, bending to pick up the canvas. ‘It’s a wonderful memory of our visit.’
She promises to pass his message on.
He starts to walk away but turns back to her. ‘I notice your daughter signs her paintings ‘Cara P’. What is her name?’
‘A true Cornish name if ever there was one!’ He smiles at Carol with a twinkle in his eyes. As her legs threaten to give way, Carol sits.
His companion is already at the door. As she opens it, the clamour of voices in the courtyard momentarily dips as the couple step out into the late afternoon air. Immediately people surge around and Carol notices how the man signs every scrap of paper presented to him with a quiet dignity, while the woman stands by proprietorially. He catches Carol watching him again and she blushes, embarrassed. He smiles. She can see he’s trying hard to mask his resignation but the darkness she’d noticed earlier once more envelops him. Before Carol can contemplate this further, her friend charges through the door in a state of high excitement.
‘Carol, can you believe it?’ Sheila exclaims. ‘Oh my God! Can you believe it? Here in little old Porthleven!’
Holding a piece of paper aloft, Sheila shimmies her way to the counter. Drawing the paper to her lips, she plants a firm kiss on the autograph. Carol laughs. Sheila is always a whirlwind of fun and enthusiasm, but her energy has extended beyond the norm this afternoon.
‘No, Sheila, I wouldn’t have believed it had I not witnessed it for myself.’
‘Oh my God! Wait ’til Betty hears what she’s missed.’
‘She will be well fed up,’ Carol says, looking out of the window at the now empty courtyard.
Bubbling with excitement, Sheila pulls Carol off the stool and spins her round. Both women giggle like schoolgirls.
Carol turns in the direction of the voice. Her grandson bounds across the shop towards her, dragging his school bag behind him, all cheeky smiles under a mop of blond hair. Momentarily her heart pinches at the image he represents of that other golden child she once knew.
‘Sky, watch where you’re going,’ Cara calls from the entrance. Her daughter, Bethany, stands behind her.
Flinging himself at Carol, the young boy hugs her tightly, and she drops a kiss on the top of her precious grandson’s head.
‘Looks like you’ve been busy, Mum,’ Cara says, glancing at the empty easel. ‘Where’s The Minack gone?’
But before Carol has a chance to respond, Sheila shrieks, ‘Oh my God, Cara! You will never guess who your mother just sold your painting to. I can’t believe it! Oh my God!’ Aware that the boy stares at her, open-mouthed, she quickly adds, ‘Pretend you didn’t hear that, Sky.’
Cara looks from Sheila to her mother in bewilderment. Both women appear flushed with a feverish look in their eyes.
‘Who?’ she asks.
In unison the older women gush, ‘Oliver Foxley!’
Kate Ryder has worked in a number of industries including publishing, mainly as a proof-reader/copy editor and writer for a national newspaper, magazines and publishing houses. A member of the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists Association, in 2013 she published her debut novel, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, a timeslip romance and mysterious ghost story, which was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 “Search for a Star” and also honoured with a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” Award. Kate lives in a renovated 200-year-old sawmill in the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.
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