A Vicarage Reunion
Blurb: Welcome to Thornthwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District, where homecomings and surprises await the four Holley sisters…
Esther Holley, the eldest in the family, has always had her life firmly in control until a miscarriage knocks her off course. Two months later, still emotionally spinning, she separates from her husband Will, a sheep farmer and man of few words and moves back in with her parents.
Life as a singleton thirtysomething living in her parents’ house is miserable, but Esther is determined to re-boot her life, including going on a few unfortunate dates. She’s shocked when tight-lipped Will shows up on her doorstep determined to woo her back. They’ve been married for seven years, but Will wants to return to the beginning, dating and getting to know each other again.
New challenges face them as they start over–and new chances too. Can Esther and Will save their marriage, especially when faced with the hardest decision of all?
A VICARAGE REUNION EXCERPT
They arrived at the hotel, a narrow building crammed between large, modern monstrosities, and after a few minutes to check-in, they were upstairs in a room that was, Esther saw with a sinking sensation, really quite tiny. A double bed, not the queen she’d been hoping for, and about a foot between it and the bureau. The adjoining bathroom was small enough to make using the loo and the shower at the same time possible, if she’d wished to attempt such a feat of hydraulic engineering.
“Well, this is cosy.” Will hefted both their bags onto the bureau. With the two of them in it the room felt even tinier, airless. Her head was still spinning from all the alcohol she’d ill-advisedly imbibed.
“I think I’ll take a shower.”
“Fine by me.”
Unfortunately, Esther realized after she’d shimmied past Will to collect her washbag, the bathroom had a door constructed entirely of frosted glass, and made her feel as if she were performing in a peep show. It was impossible not to have her full silhouette be visible, and also impossible, considering the size of the room, not to have Will watch—all which made having a shower a far less relaxing proposition than she’d hoped.
It felt stupid to be self-conscious considering how well Will knew her body, and how she knew his. Every scar, every sinew, everything. They’d been married for seven years. Of course they knew each other, physically at least.
Yet now, as she rinsed off as quickly as she should, and then yanked on her sensible pyjamas—a fleece top and yoga pants—she felt ridiculously prudish, as if she’d turned into a buttoned-up nun. She avoided looking at Will as she hurried into bed.
He was already lying on one side of what now seemed like the tiniest double bed ever known to humankind, staring up at the ceiling, his hands folded over his broad—and bare—chest like a corpse in a casket.
As Esther slid into her side of the bed, she thought about asking him to put on a shirt, and then decided not to go there. She turned so her back was to Will and clicked off the light.
Silence smothered the room, heavy and oppressive. Esther scrunched her eyes shut, as if she could forcibly will herself to sleep. She edged her feet away from Will’s, in case they tangled toes as they so often had in the past, their version of a kiss goodnight.
“Nice door on the bathroom,” Will commented after several endless minutes, his voice disembodied in the darkness, and Esther’s whole body jolted with tension, as well as something else.
“You didn’t have to look.”
“Kind of hard not to, and in any case, we’re married.” Will shifted on the bed so his body, already mere inches from hers, pressed that much closer. “I know your body as well as my own, Esther.” He spoke matter-of-factly but it still made a shiver go through her. She’d been thinking the same thing, and to hear Will say it made heat bloom inside her.
Then Will put his hand on her shoulder, heavy and warm. “Esther…”
About the author: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of over 60 books of women’s fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England’s Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell.
She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women’s fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.
Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.
1st prize: £10 Amazon Gift card
2nd prize: A paperback copy of A Vicarage Christmas