Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Li'l Introduction to Mae, Willow and Melody!

As The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea is out next week (eep!) I thought I'd introduce the three main characters, Mae, Willow and Melody.

Mae

The book is set in Clifton-on-Sea, a British seaside town where Mae is running her little bed and breakfast on the seafront. Mae is a single mum to four-year-old Hannah, who along with the B&B and her part-time bar work, keeps Mae too busy for any kind of love life. But she's quite happy being single. Or so she likes to tell people...


Willow

On the surface, Willow has the perfect life. She and her husband are renovating their dream house on the seafront and she adores running her own upcycling business. But if you dig a little deeper, you may discover a few cracks and realise that looks can be deceptive and her life isn't as rosy as you first thought.


Melody

Melody is a visitor to Clifton-on-Sea, briefly stopping by the seaside town as she works on a photography project. She only intends to stay for a couple of days before moving on to the next town, but when she meets charming ice cream-seller Hugo, her plans fly out of the window. But something is holding her back, preventing her from letting go and enjoying her time with Hugo.


The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea

When the three women meet up at Mae's little bed and breakfast, their secrets start to emerge and this summer may just change their lives forever...


http://amzn.to/2tsgdlA
 
The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea is out on 28th June but is available to pre-order now
 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Coming Soon: The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea Blog Tour

My sixth book, The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea will be published next week (28th June) and the blog tour will be kicking off the next day. There are some fabulous bloggers on board, ready to share reviews and guest posts!



I'll be sharing each stop on Twitter and Facebook, as well as updating the info on the blog every day, so do check back 😊


About The Book

http://amzn.to/2shQn5i

Escape to the seaside this summer!

Mae loves running her little Bed & Breakfast, it’s the perfect place to raise her adorable four-year-old daughter! And no matter how persistently local vet, Alfie, chases her, she just doesn’t have time for men in her life.

Willow is busy building her dream home with her husband, Ethan, but with every month that passes she secretly worries that her happy ever after will never come true…

Melody only intended to stay in the bustling seaside town for a few days to capture the perfect photo. But when she meets Hugo – the charming man in the ice cream van – she decides to stay a little longer!

One thing is for sure, summer at the little Bed & Breakfast by the sea certainly has a few surprises in store…
 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Coming Up In My Next Newsletter

Have you subscribed to my newsletter? I'll be sending them out around once a month and they'll contain book news, exclusive content and short stories, book recommendations and more. Plus, with each newsletter I send out, I'll pick one random subscriber to win a prize bundle!

Coming Up In My Next Newsletter


 
The next newsletter prize bundle contains a notebook, book magnets and chocolate and all you have to do to enter is subscribe. You'll automatically go into the draw for a chance to win this prize - and any future prizes too!
 
You'll also get a sneak peek at my latest book, The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea and a little hint at some bookish news I'm itching to share.


Subscribe to my newsletter

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Are You On Instagram?

I love Instagram - it's probably my favourite social media platform at the moment! I didn't sign up for a long time as I thought it was just people uploading photos of their food, but it's actually really fun *whispers* and I sometimes upload photos of my food.

My feed consists mainly of books/writing, cups of tea and my dog, Luna, but this month I'm branching out (sort of, these things still creep in there) by taking part in my first Instagram challenge.

I saw Canelo's summery challenge for June and thought it sounded fun, so this month I'm posting a photo corresponding to that day's prompt. These are a few of the photos I've posted for the challenge so far:

 
I'm looking forward to the rest of the challenge and I'll definitely be taking part in more in the future!
 
 
Are you on Instagram? And have you ever taken part in any challenges?
 
If you are on Instagram, you can find me (and my bookish pics) here

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Kobo's 200 Under £2 Sale

Good morning! I'm still busy working away on plans for Book 8, putting the final touches to Book 7 and eagerly awaiting the publication of The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea (which is 28th June - so close!) but I wanted to pop a quick post on the blog to flag up a deal that's just started on Kobo.
 
The Wedding Date is part of Kobo's '200 Under £2' Sale so you can grab a copy for just £1.49. The sale ends in a few days, so don't miss out!
 
You can buy the book here
 
 
About The Book
 
https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-wedding-date-6

Will you…date me?

Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?
 
 
https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-wedding-date-6

Thursday, 1 June 2017

US Kindle Monthly Deal

Hello! How are you all? We're mid-way through the school half-term holidays so I'm juggling the plotting of Book 8, getting everything ready for The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea's publication and blog tour, putting the final touches to my first newsletter and child wrangling at the moment. Busy, busy, busy!
 
Speaking of my newsletter, it will be going out tomorrow, so if you haven't signed up, you still have time. You can see all the details, including the giveaway I'm running, and sign up here.
 
I wanted to flag up a Kindle promo that's going on at the moment for the readers who use amazon.com. The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts will be just $0.99 for the whole of June as part of the US Kindle Monthly Deal, so if you haven't got a copy, now is the perfect chance!
 
 
 
From fairy cakes to first dates!
 
Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…
 
So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.
 
Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?
 
 
 
https://www.amazon.com/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/
 

Friday, 26 May 2017

A Quick Catch Up!

 
I'm working on two books at the moment - books 7 & 8. They're at very different stages: Book 7 is very nearly ready to be released (more details soon) and Book 8 is in the planning stages.
 
 
I'm reading A Year at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn. It was originally released in smaller parts, but I'm too impatient and had to buy the complete collection to read all at once!
 
 
I haven't got anything I'm hooked on at the moment - I'm still in the throes of a Line of Duty hangover. I do quite like watching Police Interceptors though. If I believed in guilty pleasures, this would be one! 
 
 
I haven't seen a new release for aaaaages. The last one was probably Finding Dory last summer! I like watching older films on DVD or Netflix, so it was probably Look Who's Talking Too.


 
My new book, The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea is out soon (28th June) so I'm listening to summery songs to make a book playlist.
 
 
Mostly books, writing and Luna!
 
 
 
You can find me on
 
 
 
 
 
So that's me in a nutshell! What are you up to? Let us know in the comments below 😊
 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Book News: Introducing The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea!

I am so excited to share the cover and blurb of my soon-to-be-released book, The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea!

http://amzn.to/2qnxtt5

Escape to the seaside this summer!

Mae loves running her little Bed & Breakfast, it’s the perfect place to raise her adorable four-year-old daughter! And no matter how persistently local vet, Alfie, chases her, she just doesn’t have time for men in her life.

Willow is busy building her dream home with her husband, Ethan, but with every month that passes she secretly worries that her happy ever after will never come true…

Melody only intended to stay in the bustling seaside town for a few days to capture the perfect photo. But when she meets Hugo – the charming man in the ice cream van – she decides to stay a little longer!

One thing is for sure, summer at the little Bed & Breakfast by the sea certainly has a few surprises in store…
 
 
What do you think?
 
I absolutely ADORE the cover and I can't wait to share Mae, Willow and Melody's story with you!
 
 
The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea will be published on 28th June, but it's available to pre-order right now!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Newsletter Giveaway - June 2017


My very first newsletter will be going out on 2nd June, and I'll be picking one of my subscribers to win the bundle of goodies pictured above.

The bundle contains:

  • The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts notebook
  • The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts magnet
  • The Wedding Date magnet
  • Sweets and chocolate

If you've already subscribed, your name is already in the hat (also, thank you!) and anybody who signs up from now until the newsletter goes out (or shortly before - I need time to draw the name and put it into the newsletter) will be added.

And that's all you have to do to enter. No retweeting or liking (although I'd be grateful, obv), no party tricks. Just fill in the form below and you have your virtual raffle ticket.

And it gets better, because with each newsletter that goes out, I'll pick a new winner of a new prize bundle (I'll post details of the prizes here on the blog and on Twitter and Facebook). All subscribers will be eligible to win, not just the new subscribers (don't you HATE those kind of deals. Grr!).

You can find information on the kind of content you can expect with each newsletter here


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Monday, 8 May 2017

Peanut Butter Blondies - A Bonus Short Story And Recipe

 
I recently shared my short story series, Five Dates (if you haven't read the series, you can catch up here), but that isn't the end for Natalie. She'll soon be venturing out for a sixth date - the second date with one of her speed dating partners - and you get to choose who she dates!



 
The sixth instalment will be sent out in my first newsletter on 2nd June, so make sure you sign up using the form below to receive it. You will also receive a bonus recipe from The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts (you can see five of the recipes here), as well as the chance to win some prizes and catch up with book news, book recommendations and more!

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Five Recipes: Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If you've read The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, you'll know about Maddie's idea to host speed dating nights with a difference - the difference being the addition of a dessert to accompany each date.

Last week, I posted a series of short stories centring around Natalie and her experience of the speed-dating-with-a-difference night, and this week I'll be sharing the recipes of the desserts she enjoyed.

All the desserts mentioned were part of The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, and today's recipe is my favourite biscuit recipe: Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

 
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(because chocolate chips are for wimps)
 
 
Preheat your oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper. I find scrunching the paper and then unfurling and laying it on the tray helps it to stay flat. Otherwise it just curls at the corners and sends me into a rage.
 
Break the chocolate into chunks. You can use any chocolate you want to - I opted for Dairy Milk in the pictured cookies because it was on offer at the time ðŸ˜‰ Place the chunks in a food bag and give them a thwack with a rolling pin - but not too much because you'll want some big chunks in there, trust me.
 
Beat the butter (which should be softened and not straight from the fridge!) and sugars until the mixture is light in colour and smooth.

Beat the eggs and add to the butter/sugar mix, stirring through with a  wooden spoon.

Stir in the vanilla extract, flour and bicarbonate of soda. Add the chocolate chunks and mix well to distribute as evenly as possible.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray. Use tablespoons for medium-large cookies or teaspoons for smaller (puny) cookies. Make sure you leave space between each mound as they will flatten and spread as they bake. You don't need to be too neat - just plonk them on and they'll come out in decent shape!

Bake for 10-15 minutes. I like mine slightly crisp on the edges but still soft in the middle.

Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for ten minutes to set before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Enjoy! And believe me, you will. These cookies are AMAZING.



You can find all the recipes here and there will be a bonus recipe in my first newsletter, which you can receive by subscribing below
 
Happy baking!

Subscribe to my newsletter

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 About The Book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Five Recipes: Rasberry Cream Cheese Brownies

If you've read The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, you'll know about Maddie's idea to host speed dating nights with a difference - the difference being the addition of a dessert to accompany each date.

Last week, I posted a series of short stories centring around Natalie and her experience of the speed-dating-with-a-difference night, and this week I'll be sharing the recipes of the desserts she enjoyed.

All the desserts mentioned were part of The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, and today's recipe is Mags' favourite: Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies!



Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies



Break the chocolate into small pieces (trying your hardest not to have a nibble as you do so) and place the pieces in a saucepan along with the butter and a pinch of salt. I use milk chocolate, but you can use dark if you prefer.

Over a gentle heat, melt the chocolate and butter and once smooth, transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave on the side to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 25 x 35cm baking tin using non-stick baking paper.

Whisk the eggs and 450g of the sugar in another large bowl. If, like me, you're a bit rubbish at cracking eggs, you can crack them into a cup, one at a time, making sure there are no sneaky bits of shell in there before tipping it into the mixing bowl and moving on to the next egg and repeating. It takes a bit longer, but I find it much less of a faff retrieving the stray bits of egg shell from a cup with just the one egg in there!

Once the egg and sugar mixture is light and doubled in volume, gently fold it into the chocolate and butter mixture.

Fold in the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Once the ingredients are combined, pour the mixture into your baking tin and set aside.

Whip the cream cheese and remaining 50g of caster sugar together until smooth. Add the raspberries, crushing them as you fold them into the mixture to create the rippled effect.

Transfer the cream cheese mixture on top of your brownie mixture and give it a swirl. Pop the tin in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

You can wash up now, or you can be normal and sit down with a brew. Entirely up to you.

Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool before you cut the brownies into squares to enjoy with a cup of tea.


You can find all the recipes here and there will be a bonus recipe in my first newsletter, which you can receive by subscribing below
 
Happy baking!

Subscribe to my newsletter

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 About The Book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Five Recipes: Apple Crumble

If you've read The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, you'll know about Maddie's idea to host speed dating nights with a difference - the difference being the addition of a dessert to accompany each date.

Last week, I posted a series of short stories centring around Natalie and her experience of the speed-dating-with-a-difference night, and this week I'll be sharing the recipes of the desserts she enjoyed.

All the desserts mentioned were part of The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, and today's recipe is Birdie's favourite: Apple Crumble!

 
Apple Crumble
 
 
For the base:
 
Peel and core the apples. I use Granny Smith, but you can use whichever you prefer. Chop into small chunks.
 
Pop the apple chunks into a bowl and add the demerara sugar and give them a little mix.
 
Empty the mixture into a pie dish and press down.
 
 
For the crumble:
 
Pre-heat the oven to 200C
 
Cut the butter into cubes, making sure the butter is cold and not room temperature.
 
Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the butter cubes, caster sugar and dark muscovado sugar. Rub the butter, flour and sugars until it starts to resemble a crumble.
 
Top the apple layer with the crumble and bake for 40-45 minutes.
 
Remove from the oven and serve with custard (I prefer cold custard, but I suppose warm will do too).
 


You can find all the recipes here and there will be a bonus recipe in my first newsletter, which you can receive by subscribing below
 
Happy baking!

Subscribe to my newsletter

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 About The Book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Five Recipes: American-Style Cheesecake

If you've read The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, you'll know about Maddie's idea to host speed dating nights with a difference - the difference being the addition of a dessert to accompany each date.

Last week, I posted a series of short stories centring around Natalie and her experience of the speed-dating-with-a-difference night, and this week I'll be sharing the recipes of the desserts she enjoyed.

All the desserts mentioned were part of The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, and today's recipe is Little Jordan's favourite: American-Style Cheesecake!

 
American-Style Cheesecake
 
 
To make the base:
 
Place the biscuits into a plastic food bag and thwack it repeatedly with a rolling pin until you have a bag of crumbs.
 
Melt the butter and granulated sugar together in a saucepan using a gentle heat. Add the biscuit crumbs and combine.
 
Transfer the buttery crumb mixture into a 24cm round cake tin and push down with a wooden spoon until all the space is filled and the mixture is flat (ish - no need for a spirit level or anything).
 
Pop in the fridge to chill out for an hour or two so it can set.
 
Make a cup of tea and stick the telly on for a bit (optional)
 
To make the filling:
 
Pre-heat the oven to 150C.
 
Chuck the cream cheese into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until soft. Add the caster sugar, vanilla extract and salt and beat until light and creamy.
 
Add the eggs and continue to beat.
 
Finely grate the zest of the lemon and stir into the mixture. Transfer the mixture into the tin over the biscuit base.
 
Bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
 
Turn off the oven but don't remove the cheesecake yet. Open the oven door and leave the cheesecake to cool in there for an hour.
 
I'm really sorry, but you still can't scoff it. Pop the cheesecake in the fridge to chill and set overnight.
 
The next day:
 
Enjoy that bad boy!

 


You can find all the recipes here and there will be a bonus recipe in my first newsletter, which you can receive by subscribing below
 
Happy baking!

Subscribe to my newsletter

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 About The Book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?


Monday, 1 May 2017

Five Recipes: Fairy Cakes

If you've read The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, you'll know about Maddie's idea to host speed dating nights with a difference - the difference being the addition of a dessert to accompany each date.

Last week, I posted a series of short stories centring around Natalie and her experience of the speed-dating-with-a-difference night, and this week I'll be sharing the recipes of the desserts she enjoyed.

All the desserts mentioned were part of The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, and today's recipe is Maddie's favourite: Fairy Cakes!

 
Fairy Cakes
 
 
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a 12-hole bun tray with paper cases.
 
Using an electric whisk, cream the butter. Add the caster sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
 
Crack the eggs into a cup or bowl and beat. Add the beaten eggs to the sugar and butter mixture a little bit at a time, making sure you beat well each time.
 
Add one tsp of vanilla extract. Sieve in the flour, folding it into the mixture until you can no longer see any flour.
 
Pop the mixture into the cake cases, filling them about two thirds full.
 
Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.
 
Once cool, make up the icing sugar according to the packet. You can add colouring/flavouring if you'd like, but I prefer plain white.
 
Spoon the icing onto the tops of the cakes, smoothing and spreading with the back of the spoon. Add the sprinkles while the icing is still wet and leave to set (if you can wait. It'll do no harm to jump right in).
 


You can find all the recipes here and there will be a bonus recipe in my first newsletter, which you can receive by subscribing below
 
Happy baking!

Subscribe to my newsletter

* indicates required




 
 About The Book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?


Friday, 28 April 2017

Five Dates: Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This week I'm sharing a short story series inspired by The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts.
 
Click to read parts one, two, three and four
 
Part Five:
 
 

Natalie had had enough of this dating lark. She’d quite enjoyed her fifteen minutes with dentist Walker but, on the whole, the evening had been a major flop and she was more than happy to remain single for the rest of her days if it meant never having to endure events like this ever again. Still, she had one date remaining. She’d sit through the next fifteen minutes, enjoy her dessert, and then she’d be free to go home and pretend the evening hadn’t happened at all.
‘Hey.’ Her date slipped into the opposite seat and flashed a smile at Natalie. It wasn’t the cocksure grin of her previous date, nor was it the shy, fleeting smile of Walker. It was a happy medium; warm and friendly without a hint of arrogance.
‘Hello.’ Natalie returned the smile, finding it wasn’t as painful as she’d suspected playing along for the final date would be. ‘I’m Natalie.’
‘Rav.’ A hand was offered, which she shook, briefly. ‘Well done for making it through to the end.’
‘We’re not quite there,’ Natalie pointed out. ‘We still have fourteen and a half minutes to go.’
‘That’s true.’ Rav smiled again. He had a dimple in his right cheek, which Natalie removed her gaze from. ‘Be gentle with me. It’s been quite a night.’
‘You haven’t enjoyed it?’ Natalie didn’t add ‘either’ to her question, but her tone suggested it.
‘I have,’ Rav said. ‘Sort of. Ish.’ He laughed lightly and shook his head. ‘Not at all, actually. I thought it’d be fun, but I don’t think I match with any of my dates. So far, obviously. I don’t know enough about you to gauge yet.’
‘We both wear glasses,’ Natalie said. Rav was wearing a pair of black, thick-rimmed glasses with rounded oblong lenses. He obviously didn’t have friends who’d persuaded him to leave the specs behind. ‘But mine are at home. It’s a decision I’m regretting.’ She grimaced and rubbed at her temples.
‘You poor thing.’ Rav’s eyebrows knotted with concern. ‘The girl in the pink offered me some pills earlier, but I don’t think they were paracetamol.’
Natalie’s mouth gaped. ‘You’re kidding.’
Rav shook his head. ‘I’m afraid not.’
‘Wow. I thought some of my dates had been questionable, but that takes the biscuit.’
‘Talking of biscuits …’
The waitress had arrived with their final dessert of the evening. They’d already enjoyed mini fairy cakes, dainty slices of American-style cheesecake, little portions of apple crumble, and raspberry cream cheese brownies, and they were going to finish off their evening with cookies stuffed with gooey chocolate chunks.
‘Is this your first experience of speed dating?’ Natalie asked once the waitress had left them with their plates of biscuits.
‘I wish. I’ve been to a few more traditional speed dating evenings. This is tame in comparison.’ He broke off a piece of cookie and popped it into his mouth.
‘If they were so bad, why are you still going with it?’
Natalie was genuinely curious. She couldn’t imagine putting herself through this again. She wasn’t against dating in general, but she’d rather know what she letting herself in for before committing to a date, even if they were only minutes long.
Rav shrugged. ‘I guess I’m a romantic. I know the right girl is out there somewhere, and I’m too impatient to sit around waiting to meet her. I need to be proactive. Plus, this way I get to eat delicious treats. Have you tasted these cookies? They’re amazing.’
Natalie narrowed her eyes, her cookie still untouched in front of her. ‘Was that a line? About being a romantic?’
‘God, no.’ Rav laughed and broke off another piece of cookie. ‘You should ask my family: my dad thinks I’m a wuss, my brother’s convinced I’m gay, and my mum thinks I’m the sweetest boy ever created.’
‘So what makes you a romantic? Apart from not only believing in The One, but going out to find her?’
Rav considered the question for a moment before answering. He placed his cookie back down on his plate and brushed the crumbs from his fingers. ‘I guess I just like to see people being happy. There’s nothing better than seeing somebody’s face lighting up because of something you’ve done – a bouquet of their favourite flowers, a note left in their pocket, even something as simple and mundane as a cup of tea after a long day. And I’m genuinely thrilled whenever my mates announce an engagement or start having babies, even if I am a little bit envious that they’ve found that special person.’
Natalie nibbled her chocolate chunk cookie as she listened. Was this guy real? Or was he playing her? Telling her what she wanted to hear? Because lord knows she’d love a bloody cup of tea after a long day. She’d lived with Hugh for two years and she swore he didn’t know where the kettle had been kept in their flat.
‘Okay, Mr Romantic. What are your views on picnics?’
Hugh didn’t understand picnics. They lived in UK, where it was almost guaranteed to piss it down with rain, so why would they go to the bother of packing a picnic and freezing their arse off while waiting for their food to get soggy?
‘I love a picnic. What’s not to love? Good food, even better company, the sunshine on your skin.’
‘What about the swarms of ants crawling all over your sandwiches?’
Rav shook his head. ‘Hasn’t happened yet, so I feel quite safe.’
‘What are your views on Sex and The City?’
‘It’s pretty funny, actually. I’m not a great fan of the films, though. Sorry.’
Dirty Dancing?’
‘Not my favourite, I have to admit. But not the worst film I’ve ever seen. Certainly watchable.’
‘When’s your mum’s birthday?’
Hugh hadn’t known his own mother’s birthday, even though Natalie wrote it on the calendar each year. Natalie inevitably had to buy and wrap the gift, though Hugh would begrudgingly deliver it in person.
‘Twentieth of June,’ Rav said without having to think about it. ‘She’s a Gemini.’
‘You sound too perfect. Tell me something bad about yourself?’
‘I crack my knuckles. A lot. Drives my family nuts. I also talk to myself.’ Rav grinned. ‘Sometimes it’s the only way to have a decent conversation.’
‘That’s it?’ Jeez, even Natalie had worse habits than that.
‘I chew the end of pens, whether they belong to me or not.’
‘Well, that proves it.’ Natalie threw her hands up, her tone turning sarcastic. ‘You’re a terrible human being. Why am I even wasting my time talking to you?’
‘I can’t help being a decent person. Blame my mum for bringing me up so well.’
‘You really are too good to be true. What do you do for a living? Rescue kittens from trees and nurture orphaned puppies?’
‘I’m a youth worker, so I generally try to engage young people in activities and discussions while they’d rather be anywhere else. Thankfully, I love my job. What about you?’
Natalie told him about her job as a carer.
‘So we both work out in the community,’ Rav said. ‘It isn’t just the glasses and a not-that-great evening we have in common.’
‘It turns out my evening hasn’t been as bad as I thought it was going to be,’ Natalie said.
Rav smiled across at her. ‘Mine hasn’t either. I’ve quite enjoyed being interrogated by you.’
Natalie made a ‘pfft’ sound. ‘Interrogated? More like a gentle grilling.’
‘You do know I’ll have to return the favour and give you a “gentle grilling” if we go on a second date, don’t you?’
Natalie felt the stirring of butterflies in her tummy. Rav would like to go on a second date? Would she be open to that?
She didn’t have long to decide as the bell rung, signalling the end of the date. She was disappointed that her fifteen minutes with Rav were over, but did she want to see him again?
    'That wasn't so bad, was it?' the hostess asked as Natalie handed over her scorecard.
    'No, I suppose it wasn't.' Natalie found she was unable to keep the grin from her face as she headed out of the café. She couldn’t wait to meet up with Gina and Jade and tell them about her unexpectedly pleasant evening.
 

Part One | Part Two  | Part Three | Part Four  | Part Five
 
I hope you've enjoyed the Five Dates series - but what happens next for Natalie? Whose name does she tick on her scorecard?
 
YOU decide. Vote using the form below, and whichever lucky fella receives the most votes will go on a second date with Natalie! The sixth instalment will go out exclusively to my newsletter subscribers, so do sign up - it's easy and completely free!

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About The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts
 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Teashop-Broken-Hearts-ebook/dp/B01MDNF71Y/

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?