Forever at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn ** Blog Tour Extract & Review**
Today I have an extract for you from Darcie Boleyn's third novel in her Conwenna Cove Series, Forever at Conwenna Cove. You can read my reviews on Christmas at Conwenna Cove here.
First, a little about the book:
Following heartbreak, Zoe Russell found a haven in Conwenna Cove. As the owner of the village diner and a volunteer for the local greyhound sanctuary, she’s happy with her peaceful life.
Local surfer Nate Bryson plans to leave Conwenna and see the world. He wants to shake off his reputation as a ladies man and start again somewhere new. Before departing, Nate decides to raise funds for the dog rescue home as a way of giving back to the community.
When Nate approaches Zoe to help with the charity event she sees there’s more to him than meets the eye. Nate can’t believe he’s failed to notice the kind and beautiful woman right before him. But can two such different people ever be together, especially if one of them is determined to leave?
Perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Phillipa Ashley and Sarah Bennett.
Zoe jumped up in bed, gasping and waving her arms around.
It was okay. She was in bed, not in the water. She was alive. It had been a dream.
A nightmare. Another one. One that had made her cheeks wet with tears and left her heart thundering. Even though Zoe could suppress her memories during the day, at night, when she slept, they took advantage of her vulnerability and forced themselves into her mind. It was exhausting, this constant battle with the demons of her past, and she wondered if she would ever be free of it. But that would take some serious emotional progress and Zoe knew, though she hated to admit it, that she was guilty of burying her past rather than dealing with it.
She threw back the duvet and stood on trembling legs, then grabbed her dressing gown and pulled it on over her sweat-soaked cotton pyjamas. There was no point trying to sleep now, so she’d go downstairs and make a herbal tea.
Zoe padded down the stairs, not bothering to turn a light on because she could see perfectly in the moonlight that shone through the frosted glass pane in her front door. The door opened straight into her small lounge where Zoe’s eyes were drawn to the sofa. Her stomach plummeted to the wooden floorboards and she bit her bottom lip hard.
The sofa shouldn’t be empty. But it was. She was convinced that it was one reason why her nightmares had returned. Forgetting her tea, she went to the sofa and sat down, then pulled the soft fleecy blanket from the back of it and pressed it to her face. It still smelt of her.
‘Raven,’ she said as her vision blurred. ‘My sweet black beauty.’
When she’d moved to Conwenna Cove, after buying the diner over two and a half years ago, she’d overheard a conversation in the Conwenna Cafe about the greyhound sanctuary up at Foxglove Farm. She’d vowed never to visit it for fear that she’d fall in love with one of the rescue hounds, but that hadn’t stopped her seeing them just about everywhere she went. Then, one day, about seven months ago, she’d been walking along the cove enjoying the refreshing February air when she’d bumped into the owners of the sanctuary, Neil Burton and his wife, Elena. They’d been walking some of the greyhounds and when Zoe had stopped to talk to them, one dog had stepped forwards and leant against her leg. Before she’d realized what she was doing, she’d stroked the dog’s soft black head then asked about her.
Neil had told her that the dog was called Raven. She was an older girl of about twelve years and her owner had been forced to go into a care home, which meant he couldn’t look after Raven any more. Neil had agreed to take Raven at the sanctuary, although he’d been concerned as she was elderly and unlikely to find a home. He’d also expressed his concerns that at Raven’s time of life, it was likely to be very hard on her as she’d lived in a home for the past eight years.
And like that, Zoe had known that she couldn’t see Raven suffer. She’d offered to foster her and that, of course, had become what was known in the greyhound community as a failed foster. Raven had lived with her up until six weeks ago, when Zoe had come down in the morning to find that the greyhound had passed over the rainbow bridge. She still couldn’t bear to think of it as dying, and instead, she liked to imagine Raven running around in sunny fields and on sandy beaches, her ebony fur shining and her pink tongue lolling from her mouth as she raced along with her friends.
Zoe hugged Raven’s blanket hard. She’d called the local vet, Oli Davenport, that morning six weeks ago and he’d come to collect Raven. Zoe had asked to have Raven’s ashes and Oli had brought them to her the following weekend. She’d taken Raven to her favourite field up behind the cottage and released her there early one morning, scattering her around in the pattern in which she liked to run. Even though she’d been older, Raven had loved to run. Not for long but as fast as she could before heading straight back to Zoe and causing her to scream in case the greyhound knocked her off her feet. But somehow, Raven never did; she always swerved just in time. Zoe found that she was smiling at the memory. And as much as she hoped she had given Raven some happiness towards the end of her days, she knew the greyhound had done the same for her.
Raven had been able to help keep the nightmares at bay. Not every night, but most, and when Zoe had a bad dream, she’d been able to hurry down the stairs and bury her face in the dog’s soft fur then listen to her reassuring heartbeat. It had been comforting sharing her small cottage with another creature and she felt privileged to have been able to offer Raven a home, even if for such a short while.
But now she missed her canine companion so much it was like a physical pain. There was no way she could consider adopting another dog; the loss was too much to bear and she couldn’t stand the thought that if Raven still existed in some form or other, she might feel she’d been replaced in some way.
And, of course, Zoe had been getting used to her solitary state before Raven had entered her life. In fact, she’d been managing quite well – apart from the nightmares – and even embraced solitude as something she could live with. Raven’s presence had started to stir something inside her though, and to make her aware that perhaps she didn’t really want to spend the rest of her life alone. Zoe spent most days at her diner, chatting to staff and customers, smiling and laughing with them and doing her best to ensure that they had as pleasant an experience at the diner as possible. She was good at being sociable, at playing the hostess, and during the daytime, her smile rarely slipped. But once she left work and headed home the shadows gathered and, as she walked the short distance through Conwenna to her cottage, her own sense of isolation wasn’t helped by seeing other couples and families, by knowing that while she would spend the evening alone, they would be eating together, watching TV together and falling asleep together. Zoe had no one around to give her a hug or to bring her a cup of tea in the morning, no one to banish the nightmares by enveloping her in a strong embrace.
As in the other Conwenna Cove books, it is the setting and those wonderful rescue greyhounds which steal the show. There is such a healing vibe in all the descriptions of the villageand it seems to be somewhere to go to feel at home and accepted. As a community, it holds together well as typified in the chapter where there is a village event in aid of the greyhound charity and all the village turns out to pool resources and work together.
This novel turns the spotlight on Nate and Zoe who are both eminently likeable characters. You see Zoe trying to come to terms with difficulties from her past. There is romance in abundance and a real feelgood touch to their story as they both edge around their feelings for each other. Zoe's insecurities and lack of self esteem make her into a more rounded character and it is easy to accept that Paula, Nate's mother, takes a liking to her from the off.
In short: a perfect book to lose yourself in - prepare for some great romance.
About the Author
Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.
Thanks to Darcie Boleyn and Canelo for a copy of the book and a place on the tour
Don't forget the rest of the tour!