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Wednesday 27 October 2021

THE HIDDEN - a guest post by Alison Knight

Today I'm delighted to welcome back my dear friend and fellow-author Alison Knight, whose latest novel The Hidden has just been released.  I had the honour of working with Alison as her editor (not that her work has ever needed much editing!), and I can thoroughly recommend this excellent story.

Welcome, Alison!  Please, tell us more!


Background: New York, 1973. Faye has been in hiding in America since something terrible happened to her, her boyfriend James and her brother Percy in London in 1969. She is currently living in a cabin in Montana. She receives news that her father has died and her mother, Elizabeth, wants to see her. They meet in the restaurant of the Waldorf Hotel in New York.

                “I must say, you’re looking well. Life in America must suit you.”

                “Who says I live in America?” Faye smiled. “I might have popped over the border from Canada, or hitch-hiked up from Mexico.”

                “And did you do either of those things?”

                “I’m afraid I can’t say.”

                “Oh, Felicity, really.”

                Faye leaned forward, her hands on the table. “Call me that just one more time, and I walk,” she hissed. “I am not Felicity. I never will be again. Accept it.”

                Elizabeth leaned back, her lips thinned.

                “You always were a dramatic child. I’m your mother, for goodness’ sake. Surely it’s not too much to ask to know your new name and where you live?”

                “It was explained to you at the time. The less you know, the better. It wouldn’t be safe for either of us. I’m actually trying to protect you. Can’t you accept that?”

                “But it’s all over and done with now, isn’t it? You’re halfway around the world. Can’t we just be mother and daughter for a little while?”

                Faye sat back and took a sip of her drink. She was stunned. In all her twenty-eight years, this was the first time Elizabeth had ever said anything like that to her. Her memories were of being told: Don’t do that, or Be quiet, or What have you done now, you bloody child? “Why change the habit of a lifetime?” she asked, her tone bitter.

                She expected her mother to snarl back at her, but Elizabeth closed her eyes as though in pain.

                “I know I haven’t been the best mother,” she said after a few moments. She took a sip of her martini and put the glass back on the table before going on. “We’ve all made mistakes. I just don’t want it to be too late before we do something about it. With your father and Percy both gone now…”

                This time it was Faye who closed her eyes. “So you’re not here to blame me for Daddy’s demise as well as Percy’s?” she asked.

                “Oh, darling, of course not. I know we blamed you initially over Percy, but well, while you were in hospital for all those months, it became quite clear with all the terrible things they said in the papers that your brother was the one who led you into the situation, and not the other way around.”

                Faye felt her mouth drop open in surprise. Had she spent years broken under the burden of her guilt, while her parents had actually forgiven her?

                The waiter arrived with their meals. A steak for Faye and a salad for her mother. Elizabeth couldn’t help raising her eyebrows as her daughter sliced into the meat and ate it with gusto. Faye wasn’t about to tell her mother that she’d been travelling for three days, had hardly slept, and had survived on snacks from bus stations and airports along the way.

                They ate in silence for a few minutes until Faye felt human again.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, her tone mild. “Why wait nearly four years before saying this?”

                Her mother put down her fork and picked up her napkin, blotting at her lips in order to preserve her carefully-applied lipstick. “We didn’t get a chance, darling. You were whisked away and we weren’t allowed to see you. They said we had to keep up the pretence that you were dead in order to keep you alive. Then they moved you on and that was that.”

                She made it sound so uncomplicated, but it had been far from simple. Faye realised her mother hadn’t known how long she been in hospital, or the full extent of both her physical and mental injuries. It had been decided that she needed a complete break from her past, including what was left of her family, if they were to convince her assassins that she really was dead. Even now, she couldn’t tell her mother the real reason why she was moved on after a couple of months in hospital recovering from her physical injuries. She probably thinks I was rushed out of the country just to spite her, when in fact I was in an asylum going through a nervous breakdown.

                “You could have asked to send a message,” she said, stabbing at her steak. She carried on eating steadily, even though she’d lost her appetite.

                “I know. But we didn’t know what to say.”

                Faye looked up. Her mother looked genuinely sad for a moment, but then, in true Broughton family tradition, she rallied, pasting a smile on her face. “But that’s in the past, all of it. I’m here now, darling, and I have a marvellous idea. I’m booked on a Caribbean cruise, starting on Sunday. I’ve got a suite which has two bedrooms. Why don’t you come with me? We could spend the next couple of days shopping, my treat. Wouldn’t it be lovely to relax and explore the islands together?”

                “I can’t.”

                “Oh. Why not? Have you got a job?”

                She wanted to lie, but what was the point? “No. But I have animals and people depending on me. I need to get back.”

                “But where to?”

                She shook her head. “I’m not going to tell you, so please stop asking.” She held up a hand when her mother would have argued with her. “I know you think I’m making excuses, but I’m not. The people Percy and I got involved with weren’t some tinpot gang of thugs. They were organized, brutal and evil. There were far more of them than went to prison, and they never ever forgot. If they had just a hint that I’m still alive, they’d hunt me down. If they thought you knew where I was, they’d make you talk – and it wouldn’t be pretty. God, when one of them paid James a visit, he nearly wet himself.”

                “Of course he did. That boy was an arse,” snapped his mother. “He had no backbone.”



Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…

Montana, 1973.

Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.

Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.

The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.

When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?





Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.

The Hidden, available from September 2021, is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops ( as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.


@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter


Sincere thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.  Why not check out the other posts?  Details below.





Tuesday 19 October 2021

HOLIDAYS & HOMICIDE - an interview with Jessica Thompson

Today I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fellow-Darkstroke author Jessica Thompson, whose new novel A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide is published today.

Welcome to Broad Thoughts, Jessica.  What prompted you to first start writing?  What was the first thing you wrote?

It sounds so silly now, but the first thing I sat down to write as "a writer" was my first book, A Caterer's Guide to Love and Murder.  I did so after reading a really disappointing culinary cozy mystery.  I thought, "If THAT can get published, then so can I!"

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide is a holiday-flavored sequel to my first book.  Violet and her husband are acting as personal chefs on their friend's vacation.  But then, they get snowed in and someone dies!  *GASP*

What was the inspiration for this book?

When I went to college in Utah, there was this big mountain house that used to be owned by a wealthy family but had since been donated to the college.  I think I was largely inspired by that real-life building, so it's pretty accurate in the book - indoor treehouse and everything!

I have also been snowed in for about a week, twice.  Both times it was an ever-present thought that if anything went wrong, even a little, we would be in huge trouble.

Did you do any research for the book?

I won't name the mountain house because last time I was there I hopped the fence and snuck around to make sure I had the setting description just right.  Twice when someone came by on an ATV I dived into the bushes to hide!

I also brushed up on my knowledge of plant poisons.  At college I was a horticulture major.  I already thought I might use Taxus cuspidata (or Yew) in the book because it looks Christmassy and is poisonous, but I knew I had to when I looked up how very poisonous it is and saw it next to the front door at the read-life lodge!

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

Mostly the names are ones that I like but couldn't use for my own children, like Violet or Mercedes, but sometimes the are names that remind me of the people that the character is modeled on - such as Jake for the character who looks like my husband Nate, or Gayle for the character who looks like Oprah.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

Oh, I'm a plotter, all the way!  I don't know how a person could write a mystery without plotting.  Well, I couldn't.  Even with plotting, there are things that I think of towards the end of the book that I have to go back and "plant the seeds" for.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

I love Agatha Christie and have almost finished reading all of her novels (it's been quite the project), but there are also several contemporary cozy mystery authors that I love, like Josi Kilpack and Ellie Alexander.

What has been the best part of the writing process - and the worst?  

I love the plotting and the first draft, but I'm not a fan of the editing.  But marketing might actually be the worst.  To have to sell yourself and your creations is a strangely arrogant and presumptuous act.  Especially for something that is not technically needed, but is entertainment.  It’s a weird feeling.

Is there a message for the reader?

Maybe, just don’t take this too seriously.  It’s for fun!

Do you have any advice for new writers?

My advice would be to reach out to other authors.  For a long time I thought I could be a closet writer and no one needed to know that I was writing, but that doesn’t work.  It takes a village to get a book into print.  And you don’t need to be scared to start making those connections!  Everyone in the writing community is so generous with their time, and willing to help and make friends.  It’s wonderful! 

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have at least one more Violet book in the works.  I'm thinking a prequel.  I always planned to go back and write some of the early story between Violet and Jake, and I think I am finally ready.

I'm also working on something that's not as cozy.  Shoot Shovel and Shut Up will be my classic-style mystery that doesn't have recipes but is instead a retelling of an Agatha Christie novel, but set on a Texan family cattle ranch.   

That sounds intriguing!  Thank you for visiting me today, Jessica, and good luck with the new book!


Deck the halls...with a personal chef, a snowed-in lodge, and a sprinkling of murder!

"Watch the knives!"

While acting as personal chef for a friend's mountain retreat, Violet and her husband Jake must set aside their stress over infertility and create a magical and delicious holiday - until tragedy crashes the party.

Being snowed in and unreachable from town, Violet and Jake end up hired for a different kind of job: finding out which of the guests committed murder, and why they're trying to frame their hostess.  Violet must find a balance between following her gut and keeping it all under control until the police can reach them, while still managing the kitchen.  But can she sniff out the killer before anyone else bites the big one?  

A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide will give you a culinary holiday you won't forget!  To order your copy, click here.


When Jessica discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.

Jessica is now the author of the Amazon bestselling culinary cozy mystery A Caterer's Guide to Love and Murder, with the second book of the series - A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide - now available.  She is active in her local writing community, and is a member of the Writers' League of Texas and the Storymakers Guild.  She received a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing and reading mysteries.

As an avid home chef and food science geek, Jessica has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection.  She also tends to be the go-to source for recipes, taste-testing and food advice among her peers.

Jessica is originally from California, but has now adopted the lifestyle of Austin, Texas.  She enjoys living in the suburbs with her husband and young children, but also enjoys helping her parents with their nearby longhorn cattle ranch.

You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

TWELVE DATES 'TILL CHRISTMAS - a guest post by Jennifer C Wilson

Today is a very special day for my dear friend and fellow-author Jennifer C Wilson, because it marks the publication of her latest work Twelve Dates 'Till Christmas, released through Ocelot Press.  She joins me on the blog to talk about the background to this amazing new venture.

Welcome, Jen!  Please tell us more!

Hi Sue, and thank you for inviting me along to your blog today, to talk about Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas, my latest release, which is out today! As you know, this is a bit of a departure for me, compared to what I usually write, but as the idea landed in my mind almost fully-formed, it seemed rude not to at least try and write it down and see how it went…

The inspiration behind Twelve Dates is an odd one, even for me. I usually get my story ideas from pottering around castles or other historical sites, and thinking about the people who have lived there before, but obviously, that’s been in short supply for the last eighteen months or so. For Twelve Dates, it all began with a night of terrible sleeplessness. I have been going through phases of TV nostalgia during the various stages of Lockdown, and back in March, I had been watching a lot of Coupling, Musketeers, and Friends (still am, in the last case). I had been struggling to sort some plot points in the historical romance I was working on at the time, and decided the best way forward might be to write something completely different for a bit, to see if I could break the cycle and become unstuck. As I said, one night, I just could not get to sleep, however hard I tried, and the characters of Lexie and Callum started chattering away. Another writing friend had also mentioned she was working on a Christmas romance novella, and everything just slotted into place. I knew straight away that they were best friends, almost inseparable, but initially, couldn’t work out whether they were a couple or not. As I started jotting down ideas though, the concept of a will-they-won’t-they / friends-to-lovers plot really started jumping out at me, and it seemed to fit perfectly for Callum and Lexie’s situation.

I also liked the idea of a “Christmas countdown”, with regular events leading up to the big day, and that’s when I thought about how quickly weekends get booked up when everyone’s working hard, especially in the run-up to Christmas, with so many parties, chances to catch up with friends etc. After that, the concept of ‘twelve weeks’ or ‘twelve dates’ came together, and I started thinking about key events, when they would be happening, and what potential fall-out would be between those events.

Within a week of that bad night, I had the skeleton sorted, and began drafting some of the scenes out, just to see if it kept working. And I was really enjoying it, so just kept going. I always knew it would be novella length, rather than a novel, and that I wanted to hear both Callum's and Lexie’s sides of the story, since there’s a lot going on for both of them. After all, that change from seeing somebody as ‘just a friend’ to sensing a growing attraction can be a time of turmoil, and I wanted to capture that.

Given that we were in the middle of Covid, I decided to set everything in October to December 2019, before any of us had really even heard of the virus, and it certainly wasn’t holding up Christmas parties or other celebrations. I know some people are tackling the pandemic in their fiction, but for me, I couldn’t quite face it. Although I think if it had been set during 2020, we would have found Callum and Lexie setting up their own little support bubble, and definitely spending even more time in each other’s pockets! Happily, in Twelve Dates, all of this is still in the future, and not troubling anyone just yet.

I really enjoyed writing Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas, and hope people enjoy reading it just as much!

Thank you, Jen.  I hope this one flies for you!


Callum and Lexie are perfect for each other - at least, that's what everyone tells them. But they're just good friends, aren't they? And neither wants to ruin the solid friendship that's treated them so well since university.

But when an old school friend of Callum's asks Lexie for a date, and passions overflow on a work night out, could it be the trigger to show each of them what they have been missing out on all this time?

With twelve weeks until Christmas, that's a lot of opportunity for romance - and for misunderstandings...

Purchase Link -


Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quite often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.

After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.

Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea. 

Social Media Links –






Sincere thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.  Do check out the other stops on the tour - the banner below has all the details.