Book Excerpt: Love for Two Lifetimes by Martina Boone

I am delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for “Love for Two Lifetimes” by Martina Boone today and will be including an excerpt below as well!

About the Book:

Title: Love for Two Lifetimes
Author: Martina Boone
Genre: Coming of Age / Young Adult

Two generations, two great loves, one devastating lie . . .

When Izzy unexpectedly loses her mother in a car accident, her world shatters. Their relationship has always been so close that Izzy can’t imagine life without her. Nor can she begin to understand when she finds a secret box of love letters that her mother wrote but never sent. The idea of her mother hiding such intense feelings for more than twenty years without so much as a hint makes Izzy question everything she thought she knew–including the identity of her father.

Following a trail of clues overseas, Izzy steps into a world of glamour and English royalty, one which years ago forced her mother to choose between her obligation to her musical gift and her lover’s obligations to his family, title, and estate. It’s a world of secrets and masquerades, of heartache and betrayal. And in the midst of this world, Izzy finds a young man who feels as broken as she does herself. The two are drawn to each other–only to find that their parents’ lies may present an insurmountable obstacle between them.

Thrown together on a coming of age journey of discovery that spans two lifetimes and takes them from a grand estate in the Cotswolds to a hospital bedside in India and ultimately to the Taj Mahal, Izzy and Malcolm try desperately not to fall in love. But some things are impossible…

And some loves are worth any sacrifice…

Uplifting, funny, tragic, and unforgettably, luminously romantic, Love for Two Lifetimes is a tale of two generations of love, a lifetime of friendship, a history of sacrifice, and one last, heartbreaking and hopeful choice revealed in prose, texts, and love letters. Written for young adults and grown-up romantics, if you love the romance of the royal weddings or any story by Nicholas Sparks, Love for Two Lifetimes will have you turning pages late into the night.

“Heartwarming, lyrical, soulful, and with just the right amount of humor: this book sparkles with authentic, layered characters and beautiful, thoughtful prose.” — Jodi Meadows, NYT bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane

About the Author:

Martina Boone is the award-winning author of Love for Two Lifetimes and the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island series, including Compulsion, Persuasion, and Illusion for young adults from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse as well as romantic fiction for adult readers in the Celtic Legends Collection starting with Lake of Destiny.

She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a three-time Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Site. She’s dedicated to encouraging literacy and reader engagement through a celebration of literature, and she’s on the Board of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and runs the CompulsionForReading.com program to distribute books to underfunded schools and libraries.

She lives in Virginia with her husband, children, Shetland Sheepdog, and a lopsided cat, and she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she loves to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate-flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.

Website – Blog – Facebook – Instagram – TwitterGoodreads

Excerpt:

“Do you want to read the letters for yourself?” I blurt out, and his face goes all hard and distant.

“No, really. I think they—this whole thing—it’s like those roses Joran Masterson held up in the workshop. You can’t know what you aren’t seeing until you see it, if that makes any sense. I don’t know if it would change how you feel, but I think you should read the letters.”

“I don’t bloody want to read them.” Malcolm rubs a hand across the back of his neck.

“What about your father?”

“I don’t know.” Malcolm snaps off the ignition and shifts around in his seat to face me. “Part of me thinks that after all the pain he inflicted on my mum, he deserves any amount of pain the letters would cause him. But he hasn’t been the same since he read that your mother died. He still goes to the surgery every day, sees patients, runs the estate, but he’s only going through the motions, as if nothing really matters. At night he shuts himself in the reading room and doesn’t come back out. Then he rang out of the blue and asked me to come home this weekend because he needed to go to London. He refused to say how long for, and no one here knows anything except that he’s arranged a locum doctor to stand in for him at the practice for as long as needed.”

“And that isn’t normal?”

“Far from it.”

Malcolm’s trying so hard to sound like he doesn’t care that it makes my chest hurt to hear him. I hate that I came here and added to his worries. And I don’t know how to get myself out of this.

“Well, I hope he—” What? What am I supposed to say? “Grief is hard,” I manage, which is entirely feeble and obvious and lame. “Look, thanks for driving me back. And sorry I bothered you with all this. It was nice to meet you. So um. Yeah. Bye. Thanks again.” I smile too brightly. I’m babbling, so I just have to stop. I need to go.

Snatching up my purse, I jump out of the car without looking at Malcolm, and I rush up the path. The entrance is set beyond a low wall bordered by the kind of perfect English perennial garden that looks as if it happened by accident but that—like everything else around here—probably took a hundred careful years of weeding and breeding to grow just right.

Malcolm jumps out of the car and comes after me. His legs are longer than mine, so he catches me in just a couple strides. “Don’t do that. Don’t get cold and polite on me. Don’t leave.”

He catches my hand and tugs me to a stop, and I feel every ounce of my body heat pooling in my fingers. I want to die of mortification so I don’t turn around.

“All right, yes,” he says. “Yes, I want to read the letters. Which is to say, I know I’ll regret it if I don’t read them. Also, I meant what I said earlier about you coming to stay at the Hall. Dad would have my head on a platter if he found out I’d left you here on your own.”

I turn then, needing to see if he’s serious. He gives me another one of those smiles, and it’s the rose phenomenon all over again. Having seen the way his face can light up, I know this smile isn’t completely real. I flail for a word to explain the absence of something special, but there isn’t one. How can there not be one?

Well, heck, if Horace Walpole can invent “serendipity,” I can come up with something.

A·splen·dor·i·a (Noun): Perfectly executed but devoid of brilliance or genius. “The film’s asplendoria made it enjoyable but unremarkable.”

Malcolm’s smile, this smile, is asplendorious compared to his usual one.

And I did that to him.

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Book Extract: The Girl who Wanted to Belong by Angela Hart

The Blurb:

Lucy is eight years old and ends up in foster care after being abandoned by her mum and kicked out by her new stepmother. Two aunties and then her elderly grandmother take her in but it seems nobody can cope with Lucy’s disruptive behaviour. Social Services hope a stay with experienced foster carer Angela will help Lucy settle down. She misses her dad and three siblings and is desperate for a fresh start back home, but will Lucy ever be able to live in harmony with her stepmother and her stepsister – a girl who was once her best friend at school?
The Girl Who Wanted to Belong is the fifth book from well-loved foster carer and Sunday Times bestselling author Angela Hart. A true story that shares the tale of one of the many children she has fostered over the years. Angela’s stories show the difference that quiet care, a watchful eye and sympathetic ear can make to those children whose upbringing has been less fortunate than others.

About the Author:

Angela Hart, who writes under a pseudonym, is a specialist foster carer for children with complex needs. Angela has been a foster carer for over 25 years, during which time she and her husband, Jonathan, have looked after more than fifty children. Her books Terrified and The Girl Who Just Wanted To Be Loved were top ten Sunday Times bestsellers.

Extract:

Chapter 2
‘I miss you, Daddy. When can I come home?’
Lucy looked very pleased with her large room and began explaining that at home she had to  share a bunk bed with her stepsister, who had a habit of rattling the frame to annoy her.
‘I’m on the top bunk and she kicks my mattress from below. She’s such a wind-up merchant. My little sister sleeps on the fold-up bed in the same room. It’s not a big room like this. It’s tiny. You can’t see the carpet when my sister’s bed is pulled out. Then my brothers share the smallest room and then Daddy—’
Lucy suddenly stopped talking.
‘Daddy?’
‘Daddy has the other room, with her.’
I let this statement hang in the air for a moment so as not to rush or pressure Lucy into talking about anything she might find difficult to discuss. She didn’t elaborate and so I casually asked how old her brothers and sisters were.
‘My brothers are both nine. Josh and Liam. I’ve only got one sister, Milly. She’s seven.’
I guessed the boys must be twins but I’d let Lucy tell me that, as perhaps one was a half-brother, who knows? You can never be too careful. Kids can be very sensitive about such matters and clearly Lucy’s family dynamics had already caused her a lot of trouble.
‘Did you say I could pick my duvet cover?’
‘Yes,’ I said, showing her a selection in the ottoman on the landing, where I stored the large collection of linen and towels I’d accumulated over the years. Lucy didn’t mention her stepsister again and so I had no idea how old she was, or what her name was. It would be interesting to find out more about what had gone on at home, and I was very curious to know why Lucy was the only one of the five children not to have adjusted to the new family unit.
All the other children were still living at home, so what had gone wrong with Lucy? So far Lucy’s behaviour certainly didn’t match the very negative description Social Services had been provided with. What had Jess said to me? ‘Disruptive’, ‘aggressive’, ‘belligerent’ and ‘totally impossible to live with’. I didn’t know which family member or members had described Lucy this way but from my first impressions I really couldn’t imagine her being so bad. Mind you, it wasn’t just her own family who struggled to deal with her, was it? Two separate aunties had failed to cope with her under their roof, and things must have been pretty bad for Lucy to be pulled out of school and sent a hundred miles away to live with her elderly grandmother.
Nevertheless the whole scenario seemed extreme to me. It was very difficult to imagine this angelic-looking young girl being so difficult, but I reminded myself that I’d been caught out in the past by the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ of fostering. It’s natural for kids to want to please you when they first arrive, though every child is different. Experience told me only time would tell what Lucy’s behaviour was truly like. My job for now was to settle her in and provide a loving and safe environment, to help her recalibrate and hopefully move forward in a positive way with her family.
‘The blue stripes,’ Lucy said triumphantly, pulling out a duvet cover and two pillowcases from the ottoman. Then she wrinkled her nose, looking at a bright pink set with fairies all over.
‘Urgh! I don’t like pink or any of those sparkly kind of things.’
I smiled. Normally little girls went for the pink or lilac sets of bedding but despite her sweet little face I could see Lucy was not someone you might describe as a your typical ‘girly’ girl. She was wearing jeans and a bottle green football shirt for a start, and when she began to unpack her bags I could see that most of her clothes were in dark colours and styles more typically chosen by boys. Lucy had combat trousers, T-shirts with robots and dragons on and her pyjamas had Ninja Turtles emblazoned across the chest. They were very popular characters at the time, in the nineties, but usually it was boys who liked Ninja Turtles more than girls.
Some of Lucy’s clothes looked a little worn out and shabby although I was pleased to see they were clean and neatly folded, and she had a toilet bag with a toothbrush and hairbrush in it. I imagined that was the work of Lucy’s grandmother. The old lady must have found it very tough indeed to call Social Services, I thought. If what I’d heard so far was true, she’d been put in a very unfortunate position, and I really felt for her.
I introduced Lucy to Maria, who looked the younger child up and down with an air of suspicion even though I’d told her the previous day we had another girl moving in. Maria had been with us on and off for a few years. We’d also had two teenage boys staying with us for some time too, but they’d left now. I think Maria was quite enjoying being the only child living with us long term, although of course we’d had other children for respite and short-term stays, as we always do when we have the space.
Even though Maria was used to being introduced to new arrivals you could never be sure how she might react, as she had behavioural difficulties of her own and a history of falling out with girls the same age as herself. I hoped that with Lucy being a year younger, Maria might try to be kind to her, and that the two would get on.
‘Hello,’ Lucy said. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Just stuff, in my room.’
‘Can I see your room?’
‘NO, not now. I’m busy.’
‘OK then.’
Maria retreated into her room, shutting the door too loudly.
‘Bye!’ Lucy called through the door.
I called after Maria too, telling her to try not to slam the door next time. I didn’t want to let her get away with rude behaviour like that and I wanted to show Lucy it was unacceptable to slam doors. Then I explained to Lucy that Maria was probably doing some homework, to get it out of the way for the weekend. The last thing I wanted was for Lucy’s mood to be upset by Maria’s very lukewarm welcome.
‘It’s OK. It’s not like I’m going to be living here. I don’t mind. It’s only for a bit . . .’
I wondered what Lucy’s expectations were, exactly, about the length of her stay. It was possible nobody had given her any indication of what Social Services was planning. A sudden thought hit me, Is this why she’s taking everything in her stride and doesn’t seem anxious or concerned about being in foster care?
‘I know you’re only here for a short stay,’ I said. ‘I expect it’ll be for the next two or three
months, over the summer. Like you say, it’s only for a bit, but I hope you and Maria are
going to get along.’
Lucy’s face was deadpan and I had no idea if this was disappointing news or something
she already knew.
‘Will I have to go to school here?’
‘Yes, of course. We’ll need to sort that out next week.’
‘Can I go back to my old school?’
‘No, sweetheart. You’ll need to go to one near us. Your old school is too far away.’
There was an added complication here, though I didn’t mention this to Lucy. Not only was her old school an hour away, it was in another county and under a completely separate local authority to ours. Social Services in Lucy’s home town hadn’t been able to find a foster carer close to the family home and had asked the authorities in our county to help them out. This would inevitably have created a lot of red tape – we’d been through this in the past on more than one occasion – and it would most likely lead to arguments over which county was responsible for funding the statement at the school.
I was going to try to sort out Lucy’s schooling first thing on Monday. Social workers can and do contact schools and the LEA to help make the arrangements, but from experience I knew that if I got the ball rolling myself things usually moved a lot quicker. Social workers are so busy and have a large number of children to deal with, so I’m always happy to take on the task. Having children at home, and sometimes under my feet, when they should be at school is no good for anyone.
Jonathan went out and bought fish and chips for us all that evening. I hadn’t had time to cook and we thought it would be nice for the girls to have a takeaway, which was something we often did for a treat on a Friday in any case. Maria gobbled her food down in record time, which wasn’t unusual, while Lucy was suddenly quieter than she had been since she arrived and she picked at her food like a little bird. I didn’t say anything about this and thankfully she’d eaten enough by the end of the meal to ensure she wouldn’t go hungry.
Most children take a while to settle into a routine, and I understand that eating food around the dinner table with strangers is not the easiest thing for a young child to do. Some children have never eaten at a table before, having eaten all their meals on their knee, in front of the television. We’ve found that sitting together as a family gives us a chance to talk, and so we always make it a rule to sit and eat with the children, either in the dining room or around the kitchen table.
Jonathan and I did most of the talking. I asked the girls if they fancied going swimming the following day, as soon as we could get away from the shop. They both readily agreed. I’d noticed Lucy had brought a swimming costume with her, but she told me it didn’t fit any more and she needed a new one.
‘My stepmother said it would do me, but it’s way too small. I kept telling her.’
She sounded uncomfortable when she used the term stepmother and almost spat the word
out, curling her lip.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘We can get you a new costume tomorrow. We can call in to the retail park. There are a couple of sports shops there and if they’re no good there’s a little shop by the reception at the leisure centre. They usually have a good selection in there. I’m sure we’ll be able to get one you like.’
After we’d eaten Maria carried her plate to the kitchen sink and went straight back up to her room to listen to music. Lucy asked if she could phone her granny and her daddy. I’d been provided with their numbers and there were no restrictions on her calling them.
‘Of course you can. Let me just clear the table and I’ll show you how to use the phone.’
Lucy helped me clear up and as she did so she suddenly perked up and began talking in my ear, non-stop.
‘Where does this go? What do you use this for? Do you always have fish and chips on Friday? Do you like curry? My daddy loves curry. Does Jonathan go fishing? Daddy’s brilliant at fishing. He caught a fish that was two-foot long once but he threw it back in the water.’
We’d eaten in the dining room instead of the kitchen that night, simply because Maria had chosen to set the table in there and we used either room. Lucy followed me back and forth to the dining table, walking so close behind me she caught my heels a few times and made me
lose one of my slippers.
‘Careful!’ I said. ‘Can you just give me a bit of space, sweetheart?’
‘Oops I didn’t mean to do that. It was an accident. Did I hurt you?’
‘No, not at all. Just don’t walk so close to me, as you’re going to stand on my heels again
if you do.’
Lucy looked a bit bemused – or was she cross? And she continued to get under my feet at
every turn as I tidied the kitchen. I felt I could hardly move for fear I’d bash into her.
‘Lucy, sweetheart, it’s lovely that you’re helping me but please just be careful where you’re standing. I nearly caught you with the door of the dishwasher.’
‘Sorry I’m such a nuisance! I was only trying to help. I like helping. You don’t mind if I help do you? How come Maria isn’t helping?’
‘You’re not being a nuisance and I was only trying to explain that I don’t want to trip over you or for you to get knocked by something because you’re standing in the way. I don’t want you to get hurt. Now come on, let’s sort your phone calls out. Do you want to call your daddy first, or Granny?’
‘Daddy first, then Granny.’
Lucy was being calm and polite again now and flashed me a great big friendly smile, but I was in no doubt I’d had my first little glimpse of her being a bit disruptive and aggravating. I showed Lucy how to use the phone in the lounge and explained that I would have a quick word with her father first, to introduce myself and pass on our phone number to him, in case he didn’t have it. Social Services hadn’t asked me to keep our number private, or to listen in on the conversations as they occasionally did. I told Lucy I’d leave her to it once the introductions were done, and to come and find me when she was ready to call her granny. I dialled Lucy’s home number and a very polite and unassuming man answered. He spoke quietly and gently, telling me his name was Dean.
‘I’m ever so grateful to you, Mrs Hart,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t been able to take Lucy in. I’m glad she’s safe and sound with you.’‘I’m pleased we can help. And please call me Angela. My husband is called Jonathan.’
‘Thank you very much, Angela. Is Lucy there? Can I have a word?’
‘Yes of course. No doubt we’ll speak again soon. Bye for now.’ I passed our number on to him.
Lucy’s blue eyes were shining when she took the handset off me.
‘Daddy!’ she gasped breathlessly. ‘I miss you, Daddy. When can I come home?’
I slipped out of the room, leaving Lucy to talk privately.
She appeared in the kitchen about twenty minutes later.
‘Can we call Granny now?’
‘Yes of course. Everything OK?’
‘Yes. I wish I could have spoken to Daddy for longer though.’
I looked at the clock. ‘I thought you had quite a long conversation?’
‘I had to talk to everyone who was in, but I only wanted to talk to Daddy.’
‘I see. So you talked to everyone?’
‘I had to talk to her. I don’t know why I have to talk to her. And Gemma.’
‘Gemma?’
‘Gemma’s her daughter, my stepsister. I don’t think Gemma wanted to talk to me either, but she put her on the phone.’
Lucy had a curled lip again and clearly didn’t like using the word stepsister any more than she liked the term stepmother. She told me her stepmum’s name was Wendy.
‘It’s not a very nice name, is it? Can we phone Granny now?’
‘OK, let’s go.’
The phone rang out for a long time.
‘Granny can’t move fast,’ Lucy said. ‘She has bad hips. You have to let it ring.’
Sure enough, Lucy’s gran eventually got to the phone. She was quietly spoken, polite and gentle-sounding, and extremely grateful.
‘Please call me Ivy, Mrs Hart,’ she said.
‘And please call me Angela. My husband is Jonathan.’
Ivy told me that she had the utmost respect for foster carers.
‘I fostered once myself, very briefly, in my younger days. I think it’s a marvellous service. I’m heartbroken I can’t take care of Lucy myself but it’s not the right thing for either of us. I’m just too old I’m afraid, and Lucy’s a handful, in a lovely way, of course, most of the time. She’s far better off with youngsters like you and your husband!’
I laughed and told Ivy we were in our forties and had been fostering for nearly a decade but she insisted we were still youngsters compared to her, and far better equipped to care for a lively and challenging eight-year-old.
I warmed to Ivy instantly. She sounded genuinely sorry she couldn’t take her granddaughter on full time and once again my heart went out to her. She had been put in an awful situation, and she clearly cared for Lucy very much. She told me Lucy had been with her for just a few days before she realised it was going to be impossible to care for her. The fact Lucy had no school place didn’t help, and Ivy confirmed that Lucy had missed approximately half a term of school since things went wrong at home. The two aunties she stayed with both lived some distance from her primary school and hadn’t taken her in, and of course Ivy lived a hundred miles away.
‘Don’t know what anyone was thinking,’ she said. ‘How was it going to work? I know
she’s my Noreen’s girl, but even so. It was never a good plan.’
I would have loved to find out more about Lucy’s mother but I couldn’t pry. Lucy was standing close by, looking at me in eager anticipation. I didn’t want to keep her waiting any longer, although I was intrigued about how the two aunties failed to send Lucy to school, and why Lucy’s birth mother was apparently out of the picture.
‘I think Lucy was bored stiff when she came to me,’ Ivy continued. ‘She likes to be busy. I imagine you’ve probably already seen that for yourself. She’s a good girl, I’m sure of that. I wish you the very best of luck.’
‘Thanks. I’m pleased to have spoken to you and I have a young lady here who is itching to talk to you. I’ll hand her over.’
Before I did so I gave Ivy our phone number.
‘Granny! Guess what? I’ve just spoken to Daddy!’
I walked out of the room and just as I went to close the door behind me I heard Lucy
excitedly telling her granny, ‘He said I’ll be able to go home soon!’
I hoped Lucy’s father hadn’t given her any false hopes. Nothing was decided yet about the length of her stay with us, but there was clearly work to be done to heal the rift in the family unit. Whatever happened it would be at least a couple of months before she went home, and that’s a long time to a young girl.
I wondered if Lucy would talk to me about the phone call with her daddy. Most children in her position wouldn’t, but somehow I felt Lucy might. However, she’d had an extremely busy day and said she was very tired, so I reminded her to clean her teeth before going to bed and I let her make her own way to her room.
As she climbed the stairs I said, ‘Night night, sweetheart.’
‘Night night Angela. I like it here. It’s a nice house and you’re kind. I can’t wait to go home. My house is nice too. Very nice. I miss Daddy.’
I think she must have fallen asleep almost immediately.

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