My Friday Read this week is Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange by prolific author, Jenny Kane, who is published in several genres. Jenny is going to share an extract from her novel, and tell us a little about herself. Welcome, Jenny!
Welcome back to Mill Grange in the latest uplifting romance in the bestselling Mill Grange series!
Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.
Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.
As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most…
*Can be read as a standalone, but best as a part of the wider series: get your hands on Midsummer at Mill Grange to start from book one!*
Readers are loving Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange:
‘What a fantastic story this was, I loved it from start to finish. This is a well written, truly delightful read’ – Reader review
‘Don’t you just love a book that sweeps you away and transports to a sunnier, happy time. Well this book is the perfect escape. Curl up and enjoy this romantic comedy. I loved it’ – Reader review
‘Ah, Jenny has done it again … I am already champing at the bit for book 4! Being back with the gang at Mill Grange is like meeting up with long lost friends’ – Reader review
‘What a lovely feel-good story! It’s a fantastic mixture of romance and humour, filled with enough laughable and serious moments to balance it out’ – Reader review
‘Kane’s writing style, with its gorgeous and vivid descriptions, allows readers to visit places and follow the characters as if they’d been there themselves’ – Reader review
Here’s an extract to whet the appetite –
‘There is something rather delicious about sneaking off for morning coffee on a work day.’ Tina raised her coffee cup in salute to Thea and Helen as they waited for Sybil to deliver a round of her famous cheese scones.
‘I ought to be scraping a ton of mud off the shovels ready for the new guests this afternoon,’ Helen dropped a sugar cube into her mug, ‘but I can live with the guilt.’
Looking at her two friends across the Spode covered, table, Thea smiled. ‘I’m going to miss you two.’
‘You’re only going for eight weeks. Anyway, you’ll be far too busy being famous to miss the likes of us,’ Helen gave her a friendly nudge, ‘and too knackered from all the digging to notice the time passing.’
Thea laughed, ‘The famous bit I doubt, the knackered bit I can’t argue with. I ache enough after a day helping you and Tom on our fortlet, these days. A full eight week dig with television cameras watching my every move is going to kill me.’
‘Don’t be daft.’ Tina looked up as Sybil arrived at their table, ‘I swear your scones smell more delicious every time we come in here.’
Sybil rolled her eyes, ‘Praise indeed seeing as at least one of you – Thea – is here every other day testing the merchandise.’
Thea stuck out her tongue. ‘Well, the chicken’s eggs need delivering. It would be rude to walk all this way and not sample the goods.’
‘It’s a twenty-minute walk! You make it sound like you need Kendal Mint Cake and crampons!’
‘I’m going to miss your cooking almost as much as I’ll miss you, Sybil.’
Picking up a large paper bag from where she’d placed it on the next table, the café owner passed it to Thea. ‘Well, these should keep you going for a while at least.’
Having peeped inside the top of the bag, Thea got up and gave Sybil a hug. ‘Thank you.’
‘I didn’t want Shaun to go without my scones either.’
‘Shaun?’ Thea laughed. ‘If you think a bag of your scones will last long enough to share with him, you are under a serious misconception!’
Watching Sybil skip off to her next customer, Thea was suddenly emotional. She was only going away to work for a while, and she was going with the man she loved, yet it felt as if she was leaving Mill Grange for good.
Cradling the warm paper bag, Thea realised with a start that it had been almost a year since she’d first arrived at the manor house where she, Tina, Sam, Helen, Tom and Shaun – when he wasn’t away filming – lived. Along with their friends, Mabel and Bert, they ran the manor as a retreat for former military personnel recovering from various injuries and debilitating experiences. Part of that recovery therapy included working on uncovering a Roman Fortlet that she and Shaun had found in the manor’s garden.
The excavation, a rare find for Exmoor, an area of Britain which the Romans had hardly touched, was a popular choice of work for Mill Grange’s visitors. In fact, it was so much in demand that, now the digging of the site was almost complete, they’d set up a fake dig so that their visitors could still learn archaeological techniques during their stay.
Having worked for years as an archaeologist and historian at the Roman Baths in Bath alongside Helen, Thea was finding the dual challenges of running a manor house, being host to guests, and co-managing a dig, immensely rewarding. So why am I going to the Cotswolds to be a TV presenter?
If you’d like to buy Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, you can find it from all good paperback and ebook retailers, including-
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Writing was something that came into my life without any warning. I had no childhood dreams to write. I disliked English at school and had serious issues with spelling and grammar as I have dyslexia. (Undiagnosed at the time). All I ever wanted was to learn all there is to know about Robin Hood and become an archaeologist.
I did become an archaeologist, and my knowledge of the Robin Hood legend is pretty solid, yet – at the age of 33 – life decided it had other plans for me. From nowhere, while sat alone in a café in Aberdeen, an idea for a short story came into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down.
Miraculously, that short story was published – and in that moment, I was addicted. I’ve never looked back.
What do you like writing most?
I’m fortunate to write across several genres. I began as an erotica writer (Kay Jaybee), and now write romcoms and romances as Jenny Kane and historical crime novels and scripts as Jennifer Ash.
It would be impossible to say I like writing one above the others – each brings its own challenges and rewards.
The romcoms are a delight because the characters – especially those in my Mill Grange series – quickly become close friends. They are all quirky and fun, and (if honest), based on people I’ve met!
The historical fiction is more demanding to write, due to the research involved and- as they are usually murder mysteries- the amount of extra suspense needed to keep the reader guessing ‘who did it’ until the very end. Having said that, I loved weaving The Folville Chronicles together. Set in the fourteenth century, they combine my passion for the tales of Robin Hood with the real-life exploits of a criminal family- the Folvilles- who controlled large parts of Leicestershire in the 1320’s. (I wrote a PhD on the family many moons ago!)
My latest escapade is audio script writing. This is a very different discipline to novel writing. Everything has to be portrayed via dialogue and background noise – not always easy. Avoiding exposition is a constant battle – but it’s so much fun! I’ve been lucky enough to write five audio dramas for the 1980’s ITV series, Robin of Sherwood (via www.spitefulpuppet.com , and am currently working on a new project which is top secret.
Do you have a special place for writing?
In normal circumstances – yes. I write in the corner of my local café. I’m there so often, that there is a plaque on the wall saying Jenny Kane’s Corner!
Since lockdown, I’ve been dividing my time between a desk my husband popped into our garden shed and the office above the café.
Now lockdown has been relaxed, I’m working in my corner until the café gets busy – then I disappear back to the office upstairs!
There’s no doubt about it – I work best in my café corner. I love a bit of background noise.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
I have to confess to stealing shamelessly from my own real life experiences. Many of my romcoms begin with me considering aspects of my life and asking, ‘How would life have turned out if I had done this – or not done – that?’
Another Cup of Coffee was based on my own life. When I was at university I was faced with a decision – did I run away to Scotland after my heart was broken- or did I stay to face life as it came?
I stayed – but what If I hadn’t? Another Cup of Coffee answers that question.
Two of the lead characters in that romcom – Amy and Kit – are both me. Amy is me as Jenny Kane and Kit is me as Kay Jaybee (my erotica writer persona). It was so much fun making two of my pen name personalities into characters in a book.
The Cornish Escape and The Cornish Wedding don’t feature experiences form my life – but they are fixed firmly in the locations of my childhood. My father is from Penzance in Cornwall, so I got to know the Sennen Cove, Penzance, Lands End landscape very well as I grew up. I wanted to write some books that featured the environment my dad and grandparents called home.
My latest series of novels, Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange, Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange and Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange feature archaeologist Thea Thomas. I was an archaeologist before I became a writer, and I’ve drawn heavily on my own experiences when writing the archaeology scenes within the novels.
Mill Grange, the Victorian manor house that forms the heart of this series, is based on Northmoor House on Exmoor. This stunning place is the location of the Imagine writing retreat I run (with Alison Knight) twice a year.
What are you writing at the moment?
Yesterday (10th June), the paperback version of my latest novel, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange came out, so I’ve been very busy marketing that. It’s so exciting being able to hold a copy of the novel in my hands after a few months of it just being available as an ebook.
From the comfort of her cafe corner in Mid Devon, award winning author, Jenny Kane, wrote the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, (Aria 2021), Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, (Aria, 2020), Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Aria, 2020), A Cornish Escape (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), A Cornish Wedding (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016),and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).
(Winter Fires at Mill Grange will be published by Aria in December 2021)
Jenny has also written 3 novella length sequels to her Another Cup of…..books: Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016). These three seasonal specials are now available in one boxed set entitled Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection (Accent, 2016)
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Under the pen name, Jennifer Ash, Jenny has also written The Folville Chronicles (The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw, Outlaw Justice – published by Littwitz Press, 2016-2020), The Power of Three (Spiteful Puppet, 2020) and The Meeting Place (Spiteful Puppet, 2019). She has also created five audio scripts for ITV’s popular 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood.
The Waterford Boy, Mathilda’s Legacy, The Baron’s Daughter, The Meeting Place and Fitzwarren’s Well were released by Spiteful Puppet in 2017/2018/2019/2020.
Jenny Kane is the writer in residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She also co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. Jenny teaches a wide range of creative writing workshops including her popular ‘Novel in a Year’ course. (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk)
All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk
Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/
Thanks so much for talking to us today, Jenny. Wishing you lots of success with your fabulous novels.
Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y2q5audb