Book Review: Even Angels Fall by F.L. Darbyshire

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Book Title: Even Angels Fall
Author: FL Darbyshire
Genre: New Adult Drama/Suspense
Release Date: August 21, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

 

 

My Review

Even Angels Fall by F.L. Darbyshire is such an amazing, intense reading. I loved this story right from the start and could actually relate with Abby’s Mum. But how the author chose to write this story is spectacular and yes I said spectacular and why? Because this can be anyone, especially a teenager who has gone through such a tragic experience and trying to find their way in life.

This story is not for the faint at heart!! This story about Abby after suffering the loss of her twin brother and trying to deal with her family who are suffering as well. She really does try to do right and she means so well, but she was in a bad way and of course she becomes friends with people who are not of the best character and brings her to a different world than she has lived. We all feel for these characters, I know I fell in love with all of them. The character building in this book is so real. Yes my emotions were up and down. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but this about how Abby handles life in her young 18 year old way and getting into the world of drugs, friendships and love. This is a mother’s nightmare. I could not put this book down, it took me a few days to read as I had to work, but this book is extremely intense.  There is major drug use, some violence because of the drug use, there is sex but not mentioned, more just that we knew that they did, lots of heartbreak.  This book brought out a lot of emotions in me, I wasn’t sure if I should read it or not but I did. If you’re in the mood for this type of intense story, it is a good story to read.

This story is a suspense, tragedy, heartbreak story, are you reading to go on an emotional roller coaster? I think it is worth it. There are a lot of talking points in this story that can be asked and talked about. Great for a book club if you want something to really think about it and get your emotions going. This book does have swearing and drugs, also has a family and love. But not everything turns out the way you expect it will.

The author is really good at telling the story, there are a few things I wish was done differently, the chapters are too long, she switches from one person to another person and sometimes it is hard to tell who it is about, there is no break. Some wording is off, but the overall story was brilliant and not what you would think to happen.

For more about this book, I did a blog tour last week, here is the link: Even Angels Fall

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 I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Pre-Order Blitz: Dead Running by Ann M. Noser #Giveaway @bookenthupromo

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Book Title: Dead Girl Running
Author: Ann M. Noser
Genre: Dystopian, YA/NA Crossover
Release Date: October 26, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

Eight years ago, SILVIA WOOD’s father died in an industrial accident. After suffering through years of Psychotherapy Services and Mandated Medications for depression and multiple suicide attempts, she longs to work in Botanical Sciences. When the Occupation Exam determines she must work in Mortuary Sciences instead, she wonders if the New Order assigned her to the morgue to push her over the edge.

To appease her disappointed mother, Silvia enters the Race for Citizen Glory, in an attempt to stand out in the crowd of Equals. After she begins training with “golden boy” LIAM HARMAN, she discovers he also lost his father in the same accident that ruined her childhood. Then Silvia meets and falls for Liam’s older cousin, whose paranoid intensity makes her question what really happened to her father. As the race nears, Silvia realizes that she’s not only running for glory, she’s running for her life.

excerpt

CHAPTER 1−HAPPY BIRTHDAY

My tenth birthday was the worst day of my life. Dad had to work late because his replacement didn’t show up on time. Mom and I waited for him to come home.

Eight years later, we’re still waiting.

Most kids would’ve requested a Vacation Pass for their eighteenth birthday, but not me. I’d rather forget the whole thing and help Gus prepare the chilled bodies in the hospital mortuary. Dragging myself out of bed and pulling on teal scrubs, I fumble for socks and shoes, as a ray of early sunlight glints off my dad’s picture hanging on the gray wall across the tiny room. Once again, his blue eyes capture mine as if he needs to tell me something important. On the floor, beneath the photo, sits a memory trunk full of how things used to be. But I won’t open it today. I just can’t.

Dishes clink in the kitchen. Mom calls out, “Hurry up, Silvia. I’ve got a surprise for you.” She sounds happy, but I can’t tell if it’s real.

Since Dad’s death, both of us have done a lot of pretending. So far this year, we’ve been able to avoid Psychotherapy Services and Mandated Medications, but sometimes I wonder if I was sent down to Mortuary Sciences to push me over the edge. Fortunately, I find autopsies intriguing, not depressing. And since I never got to see Dad’s body after the accident, caring for other people’s dead soothes the empty ache inside.

My boss, Gus, is an excellent teacher and the closest thing I have to a best friend. He always knows what to say to me and what not to say.

Too bad Mom doesn’t have a clue.

Mom glances up from her green tea as I enter the copper-colored, modular kitchen. “I planned a big surprise for your birthday.”

I tense. “What is it?”

Mom slides over a bowl of organic oatmeal topped with raspberries, normally my favorite. “I got us Park and Art passes today.”

“I’m not hungry.” I shake my head. “And Gus is expecting me.”

“No, he’s not. He knows all about it. I told him weeks ago.”

“Really?” I cross my arms, not sure if I believe her. “He must be good at keeping secrets. Gus didn’t even mention my birthday yesterday.”

Which proves he knows me better than Mom does.

She frowns. “At least eat the raspberries, even if you’re not hungry. I had to barter for them. And if it makes you feel better, we can pretend it isn’t your birthday. It’s just some other day instead.”

I want to protest more, but there’s a determined gleam in Mom’s brown eyes¾one that hasn’t been there for a long time. And I don’t want to be the one to snuff it out.

I half-heartedly take a few bites of breakfast, swallow my eight prescribed supplements, and then return to my bedroom to change into jeans and a long-sleeved, green T-shirt. All my clothes are soft and plain, without decoration, made by hands like my father’s. Only Dad proved himself to be Gifted, so he didn’t make Basic Worker Level clothes for long. Instead, he got promoted to Government Level clothing production¾a promotion which cost him his life.

“Hurry up!” Mom calls from the front door of our small apartment.

We clamber down six flights of whitewashed cement steps, the stairwell so brightly lit with safety lights that one almost needs sunglasses. Once we arrive on the main floor, we push out into the swarms of people flooding the streets. Dashing across the busy bike path and two empty car lanes, we reach the closest walkway heading toward the park.

Traffic is orderly today. No bikers stray across the wide, white painted lines separating their lanes from ours. Men and women wearing blue scrubs of various shades hurry toward the hospitals and medical facilities. Those in green coveralls rush toward the monorail station to speed off to one of the numerous Plant and Protein Production Facilities.

I glance back at a beautiful, dark-skinned woman, trying not to feel envious of her green uniform. Normally, I don’t mind my job. In fact, I feel more at home in Mortuary Sciences than anywhere else. But part of me still longs to spend all day surrounded by plants. Nothing can be done about it now. The Occupation Exam is over, and I’ve been placed where I’m most effective.

The streets are crowded this time of day. People whoosh past us on bikes as those on foot press constantly forward. Only the car lanes remain vacant. Flapping flags in the New Order colors of red, white, and blue crack overhead. I shiver a little in the cool morning breeze.

We march past rows of tall silver-gray buildings¾offices on the first two floors and apartments up above. We make good time until we hit the Citizen Family Planning and Reproductive Services Building. Traffic stalls. A tall man ahead of us shifts from side to side, waiting.

“What’s going on?” Mom cranes her neck and rises on her toes. “Can you see?”

Indistinct voices argue up ahead. Strangers murmur but avoid making eye contact. After a long pause, the people in front of us begin to shuffle past the building. A few cast furtive glances over their shoulders. Everyone’s in a hurry to get somewhere. Now I see who is causing the fuss—a red-haired girl, who looks to be about my age, shoves an orderly away. The crowd behind us pushes forward. Tears stream down the girl’s pale face. She backs away from the building and turns as if to run before doubling over. She cries out in pain and clutches her swollen belly, breathing hard.

In her moment of weakness, the Suits surround and restrain her.

“I won’t do it! I won’t do it!” the pregnant girl screams as they drag her away.

Meet the Author

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My to-do list dictates that I attempt to cram forty-eight hours of living into a day instead of the usual twenty-four. I’ve chosen a life filled with animals. I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed. But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day. Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.

Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task. I work out plot holes during runs. Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches. I find inspiration in everyday things: an NPR program, a beautiful smile, or a newspaper article on a political theory.

I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head. Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.

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“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

M9B Two for Thursday Book Blitz: Scion of the Sun by Nicola Marsh and The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold #Giveaway #T4T

M9B Two for Thursday Book Blitz: Scion of the Sun by Nicola Marsh and The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold with Giveaway #T4T

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Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T
presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy,
and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!

You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:

Scion of the Sun by Nicola Marsh and
The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

SCION OF THE SUN

 

When she least expects it, sixteen-year old Holly Burton’s unremarkable life is shaken to the core. A vision of the mother Holly never knew leaves her questioning everything she believes.

Eager for answers, Holly enrolls at a boarding school for highly gifted students in Wolfebane, New Hampshire. But things will get worse before they get better, as Holly accidentally transports to a parallel existence where she’s confronted by a dark and ancient evil.

With the help of Joss, a sexy alpha warrior sworn to protect her, and her new BFF, the equally swoon-worthy Quinn, Holly faces her fears and an unlikely adversary in a showdown that is worse than anything she could’ve possibly imagined …

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WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

 

Charmed and drawn in by Holly’s spunk and snark, Scion of the Sun will leave you spinning and falling for Joss right along with Holly. Marsh’s unique story is packed with action, mystery, romance and suspense. This is not to be missed!” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, USA TODAY Bestselling Author

 

It’s a unique novel in YA literature, and I hope it won’t be under-appreciated! An excellent start to a new mythology-based series, this is!”Alyssa – Eater of Books

 

“This was a unique tale about a heroine who is not perfect by any means, but does her best despite her failings.” –Grace – Grace Books of Love

 

about-the-author

 

Nicola Marsh

 

Nicola currently writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance and Riva/Presents series, Entangled Publishing, Month9Books, Harlequin Teen and Crimson Romance, has published 39 books and sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. She’s a Bookscan, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Waldenbooks bestseller, has finalled in several awards including the prestigious HOLT (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent), Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Booksellers’ Best, Golden Quill, Laurel Wreath, More than Magic and won several CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Nicola loves the hip, vibrant, cosmopolitan vibe of her home city, Melbourne, where she’s set the bulk of her novels, highlighting fabulous cultural and food havens like Acland Street (St. Kilda), Brunswick Street (Fitzroy) and Lygon Street (Carlton). When she’s not writing she’s busy raising her two little heroes, sharing fine food with family and friends, cheering on her beloved North Melbourne Kangaroos footy team and her favorite, curling up with a good book!

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

The Looking Glass

 

Find the diary, break the curse, step through The Looking Glass!

Fifteen-year-old Alice Montgomery wakes up in the lobby of the B&B where she has been vacationing with her family to a startling discovery: no one can see or hear her. The cheap desk lights have been replaced with gas lamps and the linoleum floor with hardwood and rich Oriental carpeting. Someone has replaced the artwork with eerie paintings of Elizabeth Blackwell, the insane actress and rumored witch who killed herself at the hotel in the 1880s. Alice watches from behind the looking glass where she is haunted by Elizabeth Blackwell. Trapped in the 19th-century version of the hotel, Alice must figure out a way to break Elizabeth’s curse—with the help of Elizabeth’s old diary and Tony, the son of a ghost hunter who is investigating the haunted B&B—before she becomes the inn’s next victim.

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WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

 

Curses, ghosts, betrayal and love. All elements to a perfect ghostly story..” – Jasmyn, Bitten by Romance

 

“I think one of the creepiest things about The Looking Glass was the way it made me feel so claustrophobic. It was similar to the way I felt when I read Stephen King’s Under the Dome–trapped and a bit panicked.”Kelly, Reviewer

 

“It was so different and so beautifully written and detailed that I really could not put this story down and I felt as though I was there with Alice throughout the story.” – Melissa, Simplistic Reviews

 

about-the-author

 

Jessica Arnold

 

Jessica Arnold writes YA, codes ebooks, and is currently a graduate student in publishing at Emerson College in Boston. She spends most of her time in class or work or slogging through the homework swamp. If she has a spare moment, she’s always up for a round of Boggle. Given the opportunity, Jessica will pontificate at length on the virtues of the serial comma, when and where to use an en dash, and why the semicolon is the best punctuation mark pretty much ever.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

 

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Review Blitz: Even Angels Fall by FL Darbyshire

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Review Blitz

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Book Title: Even Angels Fall
Author: FL Darbyshire
Genre: New Adult Drama/Suspense
Release Date: August 21, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

After suffering an unthinkable loss, Abbey Miller and her family move to Leeds to rebuild their lives and start again, but the pain and grief that Abbey carries with her is impossible to escape. As she finds herself becoming increasingly isolated from her family, she

develops a firm friendship with Lucy, Nathan and Liam, three kids from her new school who introduce her to a brand new and exciting world, far removed from all of her problems. But will her new friends bring her the light hearted relief she has longed for? Or

will she find herself getting drawn deep into their dangerous and intoxicating world?

excerpt

The bright, mid-afternoon sun pours through the open window as the soft, summer breeze makes the trees outside sway together in a gentle dance. Abbey Miller turns her face towards the sunlight and closes her eyes, feeling the warmth on her skin. As the birds

sing and the leaves rustle softly in the wind, she allows her thoughts to slowly drift away from her. “Abbey…?” She reluctantly opens her eyes and returns to the present moment. Sitting across from her is Dr Morris, with a pen resting in her right hand and a clip

board balanced in her lap. She watches Abbey curiously. “Writing about your experiences, actually putting them down on paper… it has been proven to be an effective tool when coping with trauma. I feel you might benefit from this… you may find it an easier way

to communicate?” Abbey shifts uncomfortably in the large leather armchair. How can she be blamed for not wanting to ‘communicate’ when she is so aware of Dr Morris assessing her every movement, enthusiastically scribbling down more notes because she

rubbed her head or cleared her throat. It’s not that Abbey doesn’t trust her. She is clearly good at her job. The many certificates of achievement and qualifications that are framed and mounted neatly on the wall speak for themselves. She is patient and

understanding, as all therapists ought to be. She just doesn’t get the point in being here. What difference is it really going to make? Everything that has happened to Abbey in the past 18 months can’t be changed or altered in any way. She can’t take back all the bad

decisions she has made. No, there is no point. In Abbey’s opinion, no amount of ‘communication’ is going to make the slightest bit of difference what so ever. “Would you at least be willing to give it a try? You could write in the form of a story, or perhaps a diary…

whatever you find easiest. And then in our sessions we can go through what you have written and discuss it together. Does that sound fair?” Abbey sighs quietly, nodding in response as Dr Morris flashes a brief, reassuring smile and seemingly satisfied, once again

begins to add to her notes. As the sun sets over the beautifully landscaped gardens outside, Abbey sits in her room, staring in frustration at the computer in front of her. It is dark – the only light coming from a small desk lamp that is balanced precariously on a pile

of books and CD’s. She watches the cursor flashing at the top of the screen, her mind completely blank. Why on earth did she agree to this? How is she supposed to put her tragic, dysfunctional life into words? She exhales the smoke from her cigarette and twists it

into the ash tray, running her hands through her long auburn hair. She looks older than her years. Only 19, yet her pale green eyes reflect the maturity of someone much older, someone who has been through more than the average teenager. Someone, in fact, that

has been through more than the average person ever will. Eventually, she reaches for the keyboard, hesitating for a moment before she begins to type…

‘Have you ever taken a step back and looked at your life?

Are you where you expected to be? Or do you often find yourself wondering ‘how the hell did I end up here?’

I seem to be asking that question a lot these days – and as I reflect on the circumstances that led me to this point I still find it hard to believe.

Trinity and All Saints Rehabilitation Centre is somewhere I never expected to end up.’

 

Meet the Author

FLD

Fay Louise Darbyshire is a 28 year old first time writer from the UK. Born and raised in Leeds, West Yorkshire, Fay finished High School at the age of sixteen and went on to enroll at Leeds College of Art and Design where she studied Media, Film and English.

After graduating into the world of full time employment, her passion for writing remained and she spent several years developing film scripts and screen plays in her spare time, finally deciding to adapt one of her stories into a book in late 2013. In a recent

interview she was quoted as saying, “I love how a book or poem or a piece of writing can affect an audience in different ways, whether it moves them, makes them question something differently or just simply entertains…”.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Book Blitz:The Seal’s Angel (Mystery Angels Romances) by Petie McCarty #Giveaway @BookEnthuPromo

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Book Title: The Seal’s Angel (Mystery Angels Romances)
Author: Petie McCarty
Genre: Contemporary/Paranormal Romance
Release Date: April 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

Navy SEAL Sean MacKay’s teammate is murdered after stealing a deadly nerve-gas formula from Syrian terrorists. Naval Intelligence believes MacKay’s teammate was a traitor and shipped the stolen formula to his sister in the states for safekeeping. MacKay is given orders to find the sister before the terrorists do and to retrieve the stolen formula at all costs.

Foreclosure looms for Cory Rigatero as she fights to keep her rustic resort near Mt. St. Helens afloat after her brother deserted her to join the SEAL teams. Cory’s whole world dives into a tailspin when Sean MacKay shows up at her resort with the news of her brother’s death and the wild suspicion her brother may have sent her traitorous classified documents. No way will Cory trust MacKay — the man who once seduced her and then vanished into the night without a trace.

excerpt

The two of them had worked side by side almost the entire day. Whatever job she had, Mac had appeared as though he knew she needed him. The help had started with the bags of mulch she was loading into a small wagon in the barn.

Cory hooked the wagon to the smaller John Deere riding tractor intending to start at Lucky’s cabin and mulch the flower beds now that the tulip and daffodil bulbs were coming up. She hoisted the first of the two-cubic-foot bags into the wagon and bent over to pick up another. Muscular arms closed over hers and around the bag.

“Let me get that for you.”

Mac’s face appeared at her shoulder, his cheek close enough that if she moved her lips a very few inches she could plant a kiss there.

Now where had that thought come from? Easy, girl.

The rich smell of man, out-of-doors, and a hint of the morning’s after-shave had wafted over her and had her thinking sensual thoughts like cheek-smooching. Okay, way more sensual than just cheeks as her gaze zeroed in on lips made for kissing. Lips still so soft and noticeable though surrounded by the close-clipped dark beard. Lips that easily curved into a smile capable of stealing her breath away. Lips like that had to be made for kissing. His eyes studied hers intently.

Dear Lord don’t let this man read my thoughts. They’d set his hair on fire.

As though he had heard, his sexy lips curved into that breath-stealing smile.

Kiss me. Please, kiss me.

The wayward thought made her gasp in surprise.

He shifted back a few inches. “It’s okay. I’ve got it.”

Great. He’d heard. How embarrassing. She had gasped like an adolescent teen.

He straightened and pulled the bag into his arms, then dropped it into the wagon. “These are too heavy for you.”

“Not really. I’d have to load them if you weren’t here.”

“But I am here.”

His voice had gone husky, and her skin tingled. He was only inches away again. When had he moved? So quick, so silent.

His predatory-blue eyes trained on her, skimming over her face — over her — as though memorizing the way she looked. Or was he searching for answers to unasked questions?

Her pulse raced. Her palms grew damp.

Mac leaned closer.

She held her breath.

“I… ” He hesitated.

What?

Tell me.

Tell me or kiss me.

One or the other.

He cleared his throat. “I want to thank you for the job.”

She let the pent-up air out of her disappointed lungs as he eased down to grab another mulch bag. What had just happened? She had almost kissed her new temporary laborer in the barn on his second day of work. That was nuts.

So why did it feel so right?

Meet the Author

Petie Bio pic

Petie spent a large part of her career working as a biologist at Walt Disney World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job in order to write her stories full-time.

Petie is a member of Romance Writers of America, and she shares homes in Tennessee and Florida with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.

Visit Petie’s web site online at http://www.petiemccarty.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/petie.mccarty.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Book Blitz: How to Catch Crabs by Demelza Carlton @bookenthupromo

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Book Title: How to Catch Crabs
Author: Demelza Carlton
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

Love and babies: two things Lucy doesn’t have time for in her life. It’s 1926 and this young West Australian woman is happy as an accountant. And she intends to stay that way.

Until Giorgio, an Italian migrant fisherman sent to Australia in disgrace. The moment their eyes meet across the fish market, he knows Lucy’s the girl for him. If it weren’t for his reputation as a rake, he’s certain he could catch more than just her eye – perhaps even

her heart, too.

A tale of crabs, cricket bats and catching your heart’s desire in Jazz Age Western Australia.

excerpt

How To Catch Crabs Excerpt 1

Motion through a shop window caught my eye and I focussed on the source – Mr Paino, peering over a pile of potatoes. When my eyes met his, his waving turned to beckoning as he enticed me inside.

“What are you doing up from the farm?” he asked as a gust of wind slammed the door shut behind me.

“Buying fish. Mum’s got another bun in the oven and she’s insisting on fish for dinner.”

Mr Paino laughed. “Sounds like my Maria was with little Sam. She wanted fish every day. Good thing our shop is only a few streets from the fish markets – she’d walk there in the morning with the children while I worked.” He eyed me. “So when are you settling

down and having children, Lucy?”

“Doesn’t that usually require a suitable husband?”

His smile died. “For a respectable girl like you, yes.” Without lightening his dark tone, he continued, “My brother has arrived from Italy. He’s just started working at the fish markets for Merlino, though I don’t know how long he’ll last. Last night he came home

swearing that crabs and sardines were the spawn of the devil.”

He wasn’t far wrong, but even if they were, I’d have the devil to pay if I didn’t bring that spawn home. “So your brother and Mr Merlino have crabs and sardines today?”

Mr Paino choked. “I don’t know about Merlino, but I wouldn’t be surprised about my brother. He was quite the troublemaker back home in Sicily, which is why Mama sent him to Australia. She seemed to think that sending him over to the other side of the world

might make him turn over a new rock.”

“Leaf,” I corrected without thinking. “Turn over a new leaf.”

His smile turned rueful. “Whatever the expression is, I doubt my brother is capable of changing. The girls all loved him back home and he loved them right back.”

“So you’re warning me that your brother is a rake, Mr Paino?”

He chuckled. “I don’t think you need warning, Lucy. You’re not silly.”

No, but there were plenty of girls who were. I glanced outside and was surprised to see a lance of light pierce the cloud, reflecting off the footpath in blinding white. “Looks like the rain’s let up. See you later, Mr Paino.”

I slipped out of his shop and hurried toward the fishing boat harbour. The market hall was so busy, no one noticed an extra body – least of all one as skinny as mine.

“No, my boys don’t have crabs. With weather like this, they’re off catching big fish and not messing about in the shallows!” a laughing voice cut across the hubbub and all sound seemed to quieten. Maria’s unmistakeable voice was music to my ears and everyone

else’s, too, it seemed.

I’d never envied a woman so much in my life. She was the same age as me – but that’s where the similarities ended. Blonde and curvy like some sort of Italian painting of an angel, Maria Speranza was a young widow who could do as she pleased. She worked for the

Basile family, but you’d never guess that she was anyone’s subordinate. As Merry D’Angelo’s niece, she had no parents to answer to, and as long as Merry approved of her, she had all the respectability any woman in Western Australia could muster. She’d arrived

three years before and showed no sign of taking a second husband, nor needing one…though every man who saw her seemed to think otherwise. She was the uncrowned queen of the fish market.

In the dim recesses of my mind, I registered what she’d said: the Basiles didn’t have crabs. But Mr Paino had said that Mr Merlino did, so I headed for the cramped corner of the market where his counter stood. Like everywhere, there were hierarchies and as Mr

Merlino was new here, with no relatives to vouch for him, he had to build his own reputation. Much like my parents had – and many of the other migrants here.

As I approached the counter, he rose from beneath it, unfolding to a height several inches taller than me. And my eyes met…a pair that were much darker than Paolo Merlino’s. Then one of them winked.

I blinked furiously, backing up to put some distance between me and this…rake, I realised, as I took him in. Well-muscled arms strained at his shirt sleeves as he folded them across his chest, making his knitted jumper tighten just enough to show the outline of

more muscles beneath. He said something in Italian, his voice rich and deep, though he looked much younger than his brother.

His voice felt like it rumbled through my chest as much as his and his second wink said he knew it, too.

Don’t be silly, I told myself. Rakes are good for gardening and that’s it.

“I don’t understand Italian,” I told him. “Where’s Mr Merlino? I need crabs and I understand he can help me.”

His eyes seemed to widen as he heard my broad Australian accent. Had the fool thought I was Italian? “If it is crabs you want, streghetta, I will give you those and much more besides.”

“English,” I insisted. “If you’re going to insult me, then I’ll go elsewhere.” I turned to go, but I had no idea if anyone else stocked crabs. If Maria didn’t have them, I’d be lucky if anyone did.

“I called you a little witch, miss, because you have enchanted my senses. I am at your service.”

Meet the Author

Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish.

She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray-drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below.

Sensationalist spin? No – Demelza tends to take a camera with her so she can capture and share the moment later; shipwrecks, sharks and all.

Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world.

The Ocean’s Gift series was her first foray into fiction, followed by the Nightmares trilogy. She swears the Mel Goes to Hell series ambushed her on a crowded train and wouldn’t leave her alone.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl