Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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Blurb

Meet Sophie Stone, a thirty-something serial procrastinator. Tesco knickers, Take That and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, even Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is a catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.
Not a fan of surprises, Sophie would rather not; why not let sleeping dads lie? Besides, her mother would kill her.

With interference from an evil boss, bickering flat mates, warring parents and a sexy ex-boyfriend, Sophie has plenty to contend with without an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth.
But it soon becomes clear that she will have to face the past and learn some uncomfortable home truths before she can finally build a future on her own terms.

Excerpt

In the centre of the desk, lay an open file. I shuffled forward to the edge of my seat and managed to read my own name at the top of the page. I inched closer still, squinting to read more.

‘And you are?’

The deep voice made me jump so much that I panicked, slid off the chair and down onto one knee, thus greeting the tall, thin man with dark hair, glasses and a bushy beard in some sort of weird marriage proposal stance.

I scrambled up off the floor, mortified, and sat back down. ‘Nothing! Just waiting for Mr Whelan.’

His lips twitched and he gave his beard a scratch.

‘I’m Thomas Whelan.’ He extended a hand towards me. ‘And you are?’

‘Oh! Sophie Stone.’ I shook his hand and pulled up the collar of my coat to hide my glowing cheeks.

‘Ah yes,’ he said settling himself at his desk. He glanced at the file that I’d had been trying to read. ‘You’ve come about your aunt’s will.’

I processed this new information, hitherto unaware I had an aunt. Alive or dead.

‘My aunt?’

Mr Whelan blinked furiously, referred back to the manila file and adjusted his glasses.

‘My apologies, Miss Stone, your great aunt.’

Well that was that then. She had to be one of my father’s relations. There were definitely no great aunts in Mum’s family. There was no one at all in her family. I sighed. I had been hoping… well, I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d been hoping. Maybe that she was an old lady I’d done a good deed for once when I was in the Brownies or something. Although, I couldn’t think what I’d done to warrant a mention in anybody’s will.

But any tenuous link would be better than being a relative of Terry Stone’s. Still, I’d better be absolutely sure.

‘Would you mind just running me through the family tree?’

‘Of course not,’ said Mr Whelan, pushing his chair back and standing up abruptly. ‘But first, have you brought your passport?’

I jumped to my feet too.  ‘Why? Where are we going?’ I had been told on the phone to bring my passport when I arranged the appointment and the request had been troubling me ever since.

‘Only to the photocopier,’ he chuckled. ‘Need to verify you are who you say you are before we continue with the reading of the will.’

Thank heavens for small mercies! I had had visions of having to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to take ownership of some mystery item.

Identity checks complete, we resumed our positions either side of the desk. The solicitor took off his wristwatch, set it to one side and then, elbows on the desk, clasped his hands together and made a steeple with his forefingers, resting his long nose on the tip.

‘This office holds the last will and testament of Mrs Jane Kennedy. She was Terence Stone’s maternal aunt. Your great aunt.’

I stared at him, mesmerised by the end of his nose which was protruding over his fingers.

I should stop him from going any further. There was no point in hearing what he had to say. My father had been absent for all of my thirty- two years. Mum and I had managed perfectly well without his or his family’s help, thank you very much and I knew instinctively that she would resent any intervention at this stage in the game. Besides, why would the old dear leave anything to me? It didn’t make sense, we’d never even met.

‘Long and tedious documents, wills.’

My eyes must have glazed over for a moment. I shook myself and Mr Whelan’s eyes twinkled at me.

‘There’s been a misunderstanding,’ I said, scooping up my bag as I stood. ‘My mother is estranged from her ex-husband. I’ve never met Jane Kennedy; in fact, I’ve never met my father.’

‘I’m aware of all that,’ he said, not unkindly. ‘However, it falls to me to ensure that you are fully informed as to your inheritance. Please sit.’ He flapped a hand at the empty chair. ‘Would you like me to read the whole thing or cut to the chase?’

I blinked my green eyes at him. Was he allowed to say things like that? I sat back down obediently.

‘The main bits, please.’

‘Righto.’ Mr Whelan extracted a document and a small sealed envelope from the file. He pushed his glasses up his nose and cleared his throat. I held my breath.

‘Your great aunt Jane has bequeathed the bulk of her estate to you. You, Miss Stone are the main beneficiary of her will.’

An estate! Visions of strolling through manicured gardens like someone out of Pride and Predjudice, against a backdrop of a Chatsworth-style mansion, on Marc’s arm, were somewhat dimmed with Mr Whelan’s next sentence.

‘There’s a bungalow in Woodby and several thousand pounds. We haven’t finalised the amount yet.’

Woodby? That was a village in the sticks somewhere north of Nottingham. A bungalow and some money. I repeated the words in my head. That was a house and some actual money-in-the-bank type dosh.

My chest had been getting tighter and tighter with lack of oxygen and now I was all panicky. Breathe, Sophie, in out, in out. I probably looked like I was in labour: face all red, and puffing like Ivor the engine.

A house. My great aunt had given me a house. Of my own. And that meant a home. How long had I been dreaming of my own home? Only all my life, that was how long.

Mr Whelan’s lips were moving. He was still speaking and I hadn’t been listening. He was holding an envelope out to me and I took it automatically.

‘As I say, there is a condition to the inheritance, but I think it would be better if you read Mrs Kennedy’s letter yourself. I’ll leave you in private for a moment. Can I get you some coffee?’

‘Tea please, two sugars.’

Condition? I wasn’t sure I could take any more surprises. Life was so much gentler without them. My heart rate was already registering at least a seven on the Richter scale.

‘Actually, make it three!’

 

 

 

 

Author Bio

Cathy Bramley is a British author of women’s feel-good fiction. Conditional Love, a romantic comedyis her debut novel. Her new title, Ivy Lane is being serialized as four ebooks this year and will be released as a paperback in 2015.

Cathy has spent most of her working career in the crazy world of marketing. After graduating from University in Nottingham, she cathy bramleyplunged herself into corporate world, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears. In 1995  she set up her own marketing agency, Apples & Pears Marketing, but now most of her marketing activities involve promoting her books.

She lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl.

 

Connect with Cathy!

 

 

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The Three Month Plan by Kimberley Patterson [BookBlitz + Guest Post]]

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Blurb

Kelly Callahan had everything going for her. Everything that is, except for a relationship. It wasn’t for the lack of trying, it just seemed like she was a magnet for all the wrong ones. But all of that was about to change the minute she laid eyes on Jake.
On a dare from her close friend, Michelle, Kelly accepts a challenge to date and become Jake’s girlfriend within three months. The consequence of losing is global humiliation, and she refuses to lose.

Enlisting the help of her childhood friend and confidant, Brian, Kelly manages to catch Jakes attention. She also unknowingly hooks Brian who tries to sabotage the plan. Kelly finds herself with a dilemma; take the final step with Jake and win the plan or follow her heart and reveal her feelings for Brian.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Kelly

 The boardwalk wasn’t as crowded today, but it was still early, and the fog hadn’t yet cleared even though it was afternoon. San Diego fell victim to June gloom every year, and it always seemed to wait until summer had officially started. The patio on the Breakwater Café was the perfect place to sit and people watch and crush on the surplus of college students. It was an eclectic mix of teenagers and twenty-somethings flecked with small families here and there, not to mention this was the only restaurant in the area that had a man-made wave machine. When the sand was empty and the weather still cold, this was a popular hangout. It had only been two weeks since I graduated from high school and I was convinced now that it was summer I’d have more options for a boyfriend.

“I just don’t get it,” I complained. “Sara Jennings has a great guy and she is awful.”

“You just have to be patient, Kel. It’s not like you haven’t had your share of dates,” my friend Michelle assured me, “Besides, you’re only eighteen.”

Michelle was right. It wasn’t for the lack of trying; it just seemed all the wrong guys clung to me like lint on velvet. I went through all of the stereotypes: the jock focused only on his next score; the quiet boy that couldn’t open up; I even dated a nerd that spoke in sexual innuendos.  I was ready for a real boyfriend, somebody I could be serious with.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Michelle said, pointing in the direction I was staring. “Him?”

“What?” I smiled, taking another sip from my soda.

“No offense, but you do know he’s totally out of your league,” Michelle replied. I just ignored her and kept staring in his direction, admiring his short, dark hair. His eyes had a piercing blue quality that reminded me of the blue in the ocean. His casual demeanor showed in his flip flops, grey t-shirt and black and grey board shorts that hung low on his hips as he prepared to start the wave machine.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I said, meeting Michelle’s gaze. “But, I bet he’d be interested if he knew my awesomely charming personality.” I grinned.

“Is that a challenge?” Michelle snickered. “You wanna make a bet?”

I just laughed and shook my head. “Um, no,” I said flatly. “I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

“It’s not like you have anything to lose,” Michelle teased. “You don’t start your yoga training for another three months anyways.”

I replied wistfully, “But he doesn’t even know I exist.” I looked toward him as he continued to ready the machine and talk to the crowd that had gathered. He yelled for the people to form a line – his voice deep, sexy and made me flush at the sound of it.

“That is what it looks like, isn’t it?” Michelle said dryly, looking in the same direction as me.

“Besides,” I explained, “he probably has a ton of girls throwing themselves at him.” I sighed and looked down to my lap disappointed at my own lack of confidence.

“You can always ask Brian to introduce you.” Michelle grinned at me.

I felt the heat really fan my cheeks. “Nooo, I’d be way too embarrassed.”

Michelle looked at the guy again and said, “C’mon Kel, do you see how hot he is?” She lifted one of her perfectly shaped eyebrows. “Three months,” Michelle said, looking back towards me, smiling softly.

“Three months for what?” I asked, meeting her gaze.

“The bet. You have that much time to get him to date you,” Michelle replied smugly. “You can call it the three month plan.”

“You’re serious about that?” I laughed, but was cut short when I realized Michelle was serious.  My expression quickly faded to a dull stare.

“I wish you could see your expression right now.” Michelle chuckled.

I paused at the silence, contemplating the challenge as I gazed in his direction. He was smiling to his latest customer who had entered the restaurant and climbed in line for the machine. Michelle had a point. I planned on making this a summer to remember. I wasn’t enrolled in college this fall since I had decided to take a year off before starting. And the yoga teacher training program didn’t begin until four months from now.  “You know,” I replied with a newfound confidence, “I think that’s perfect.”

Michelle’s mouth fell open in surprise that all her prodding worked. “So in three months you will have landed him is what you are saying?” Michelle asked in disbelief.

“Yeah. One way or another,” I laughed. “I’m gonna’ do, wear, and say everything that I would imagine a guy like that would want me to do.”

Michelle grinned. “You’re crazy. A guy like that is gonna’ want you wearing nothing.”

“Very funny, Michelle.” I playfully slapped her hands from across the table. “But since you were so instrumental in creating this bet, I am going to need your help.”

“I was just kidding,” Michelle laughed. “Why am I getting dragged into this? You should ask Brian to help you.”

“Well, you certainly encouraged it,” I responded and looked at the guy again. “But you’re right, how else am I going to get into his head, without some guy’s input?”

“I’m sure his head isn’t the only place you want to get in to,” Michelle smiled. “Virginity is overrated anyways.”

My face flushed, “You’re a bad influence, and you know that, right? I’m not going to sleep with him.” I must admit my mind did have a tendency to drift to such things. I’d never allowed the guys I’ve dated get very far with me, but watching him had me fantasizing of pressing against his lean body.

“Of course. But you still love me anyways.” She grinned.

“Yes, yes I do. But that may change after this whole three month plan is over.” I cocked my head to the side sarcastically.

“Well, you had better get started then,” Michelle said. “And your first step might be getting rid of what looks like competition.” She lifted her head and looked behind me.

I turned my head slowly to see him casually talking with what looked to be a supermodel. She twirled her naturally curly long blonde hair around her perfectly manicured pink nails, while batting her lashes up at him. Her low cut, cleavage revealing top left little to the imagination as she pressed her chest against his. She was thin, leggy, and annoying already even though I had never met her. “Uhm,” Brian cleared his throat, startling me. “Do you want any more drinks?” He arched his eyebrow at me, and I realized I had been scowling. I swear he was meant to be a spy the way he seemed to sneak up on us. Brian was my oldest friend, and before we were friends I had a huge crush on him. He never knew, and I was too afraid to tell him and ruin our friendship. Now he was more like a brother to me, although a much cuter brother than I imagined I’d have. Brian worked here part time as a server. It was yet another reason we came here. He always gave us a great discount.

“Brian, thank God you’re here,” Michelle hurriedly said, “Do you know who that guy is over there talking to that girl?”

“Who, the new guy?” Brian replied, motioning the direction of the hot guy as Michelle nodded. “Oh, that’s Jake; he just started two weeks ago.”

Michelle looked at me and smiled.

“Jake,” I mouthed, a slight smile turning up my lip on one side.

Brian just laughed, “Sorry, girls. You might wanna’ get in line for that one. You see that blonde girl he’s talking to? That’s his girlfriend.” He nodded toward the Amazon girl. “And you see all those other girls in line. Well, let’s just say they aren’t in line for the machine.”

Crap. This isn’t going to work.  I mumbled under my breath.

Guest Post

Recently, I was asked to do a guest post on one of two topics. They were “how far should we look for love” and “how blind can we be in finding love?” It was a hard choice, but the one I chose for the guest post was the latter of the two, and mainly because it corresponded to my new book, The Three Month Plan. Since then, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the other question and felt inspired to answer it. After all, it’s a great topic that most of us can relate to.

So, the question is, how far should we look for love? As a ‘hopeful’ romantic, my answer is quite simple. I don’t really feel that we should be looking for love, but rather that it will find you. Have you ever lost something before, and searched high and low for it only to not find it? Yet, the moment you stop searching it magically appears? I feel love is the same way.
We spend so much time creating check lists about the type of person we are looking for. We have physical descriptions that we tend to not stray from, measurements on a financial scale that we compare our prospects to and of course, we look at potential marriage material. Okay, not everyone looks right away at all of that, I mean there are some people just looking for a hookup. But, the majority of the dating population who is actually looking for something a little more meaningful bases their search on at least a few pre-requisites. Doesn’t this seem sort of shallow and one-sided when you read it? It doesn’t seem that way at all when we are doing it, but that’s because we don’t notice we are. We, as humans, practice self-protection especially if we have been wronged before and that’s a hard thing to realize until someone points it out. The problem with creating these lists is that we are excluding so many people who may potentially make us truly happy.

After all, isn’t our goal in life to be happy? To find someone who can make us laugh and share our experiences with us? I hear a lot of people say they just want someone who will take care of them. Relationships shouldn’t even be about that. You don’t need anyone else to take care of you, but you should want to take care of the other person. Loving someone else more than you love yourself, because you like how you are when you are with them.

So, ask yourself a question. How successful have you been in looking for love? If your answer is filled with regrets and bad decisions, maybe the answer of how to improve it is right in front of you. Maybe, you should stop looking for it altogether and let it find you. Once you truly are happy with yourself, and stop trying so hard maybe someone will cross your path that was meant to. There are after all, different types of love and I’m a firm believer that people cross our paths for a reason. Some are here to help us learn to love ourselves, or to teach us to be better people and learn from our mistakes. Others may be exactly what we need to balance ourselves. If you aren’t open to it, you close yourself off to experience something that could be what you’ve been looking for all along. So many couples have met that way, unexpectedly and knew from the minute they did that their lives had changed forever. True love has no boundaries, limitations, knows no distance and prevails over everything when given the chance.

In my new book, The Three Month Plan, Kelly Callahan has been looking for love in all the wrong places. She has dated various types of guys and always played the good girl role. She decides that maybe her lack of finding love is based on the fact that she doesn’t break out of that role. She spends so much time searching for that connection, that she doesn’t see what is right in front of her. It’s a perfect example of how we waste so much time on planning on own lives, that we don’t see the real plan that’s been laid out for us.

BIO

Horses were one of my first loves, and writing soon followed. As a child, I spent hours writing poems, and short stories (about horses). My parents realized that I was horse-obsessed and decided to buy me one after taking riding lessons for two years. I think they hoped that all of the hard work, and hours spent mucking stalls would help me give up this expensive hobby. They were wrong. Writing is still a passion of mine, although now I primarily write fiction. My first novel, Red Rock, was published in 2010, and big surpkimberley pattersonrise, there are horses in it. My second novel, The Three Month Plan was released August 2013.
Other Loves: My family, yoga, skincare and makeup, sushi, and raising money for pediatric cancer. I have two rescue dogs and would have more if there weren’t zoning restrictions. I’m always trying something new, as I tend to get bored very easily. Thankfully, my love of driving around with the gas light on fuels some excitement. I love novels with happy endings, and am a hopeful romantic. My latest obsession is browsing Netflix, and I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order in under 30 seconds. Do I feel a wager coming on?

To read more about Kimberley or to purchase her books please visit the following links: