Today, I have something different to share; an extract from Jenni Keer’s new release, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place and a giveaway. I love Jenni Keer’s previous novels and can’t wait to discover more about this one
Title: The Secrets of Hawthorn Place
Author: Jenni Keer
Publisher: Headline Accent
Genre: Historical, dual timeline
Release Date: 14th Oct 2021
Love will always find a way… Discover the intriguing secrets of Hawthorn Place in this heartfelt dual-time novel, filled with warmth and charm, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Cecelia Ahern.
Two houses, hundreds of miles apart…yet connected always. When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.
But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.
Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason. What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever…
So now we’ve been tempted by the blurb, I’m excited to share an extract from The Secrets of Hawthorn Place to whet readers’ appetites where Percy Gladwell, a well-respected Arts and Crafts architect, is meeting the husband of his new client for the first time. He’d previously been totally bewitched by Violet Marston, is frustrated by her indifference towards him, and curious about the man she married. The year is 1894.
Prior to Edward’s appointment, I had made discreet enquiries about him, curious to know of his background. Perhaps, if I am honest, keen to investigate Mrs Marston’s choice of husband – if indeed there had been any choice in the matter.
Edward had made his fortune on the railways – not the building of the lines, for that was largely complete – but had instead inherited a large engineering works and was involved in the ongoing supply and repairing of rolling stock. The company had been established by his father, but in the decade since his death Edward had overseen substantial company growth. It was ironic to me that he spoke of supporting the craftsmen of this country when it was his livelihood that had gone some way to destroying it.
As international trade routes expanded and the railways dissected our land, goods were shipped far and wide in journey times that had previously been unthinkable. The building of factories continued, and mechanisation replaced honest working men on the fields and in the towns. Inevitably, we had witnessed a decline in quality of goods and working conditions, and a growing number of us refused to embrace these changes. Was it right that Welsh roof slate tiles should be used in areas where they did not belong? That fittings could be mass-produced in factories but resulted in inferior quality products? Or, conversely, items too perfect, so that each one produced was identical to the one before?
Right or not, being a part of our industrial advancement had enabled this wealthy young man to secure the hand of the enchanting Mrs Marston, but I doubted it was a love match. Edward’s wealth was new money. His family name was not recorded in the annals of history. The marriage to Violet Marston brought legitimacy, and now he wished to design a country house because it was what those of his new-found status did.
‘You have come to the right man, Mr Marston. Rest assured, I will be commissioning locally sourced, handmade items, from the timber and brick of construction, to the hinges and latches on every door. But be aware such items come at a price.’
He waved an indifferent hand in my direction, as another stream of smoke was expelled from his lips.
‘Money, while not in limitless supply, is not my greatest concern. It is of the utmost importance Violet is happy with this house. She will be persuaded you are the best man for the job. My wife has an artistic soul and great sympathy for your movement, even though she was not as taken as me with the York house,’ he continued. ‘She thought it somewhat queer, preferring to spend her time roaming the grounds. But then it has always been hard to please our Violet.’ He rolled his eyes and puffed at his pipe.
There was a stab to my heart as he talked of Mrs Marston’s indifference. Not that this young woman was in any way qualified to judge my skills as an architect, but I was disappointed she found me lacking.
‘My wife and I are very different people,’ he said. ‘I am up at five every morning, restless and pacing. She rises at nine. Whilst I am constantly seeking meaningful pursuits and lively social engagements, she is sedentary, and seeks out nature, content to sit staring out to sea, or while away an hour dead-heading her precious flowers. The land we have secured will suit her well. She longs to be near her mother and brothers, and has fond memories of her summers along those shores as a child. Two years residing in London with me has only accentuated those feelings. I am city and she is country and coast.’
His pipe died and he removed it from his mouth, tamped it down and lit it once more, a fresh billowing of smoke surrounding his face. I stifled an involuntary cough.
‘I have already appraised myself of your portfolio. The estate cottages at Bardenfield, the alterations made to the Steepleford parish church, and a growing collection of small country houses. Even my wife could not deny you made an excellent job of Steepleford; the west tower was a triumph. In your work, I see a simplicity and functionality that I find pleasing, yet an ability to embrace the imagination, which will doubtless appeal to the whimsy of my wife. I am more than satisfied and wish to go ahead with the project.’
‘In that case, my first request would be to visit the plot to assess the landscape and amenities. I will consult my secretary and we can arrange a date that is convenient to yourself. We can then discuss function and aesthetics.’
‘You misunderstand me, dear fellow. I will have very little to do with design and planning. I merely intend to provide the funds. I am a busy man, Mr Gladwell, and my business interests keep me in London. This house will be the primary residence of my wife, so it is she who must be consulted at every stage.’
I nodded my understanding and cannot deny my heart gave a tiny leap at the thought of further contact with the beautiful Mrs Marston…
What will happen when Violet is forced to work with Percy? And will they find common ground over the house design? I hope readers are curious to read more about their highly unusual love story, and see how present day Molly uncovers their startling secret, as well as finding love in her own life.
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
Jenni is also the author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unexpected Life of Maisie Meadows.
Social Media Links –
Giveaway to Win a Signed copy of the Secrets of Hawthorn Place, plus chocolate and a sparkly pen. (UK Only)
For your chance to win a signed copy of The Secrets of Hawthorn Place, click here.*
Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and Jenni Keer for sharing an extract. I have my copy waiting on my Kindle for me to catch up with a couple more books before I snuggle under the duvet with it. Watch this space for a review.
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.