Monday, 29 December 2014

The Runaway Ex


Adult Contemporary Romance

Release: December 23, 2014

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The Runaways are back...
For Layla Lewis, life is finally back on track. After her "runaway year" in Cornwall, another year has passed—an idyllic year spent with sexy new love, Joseph Scott, in the sultry heat of Florence. For best friend, Penny, life has also changed. Having recently given birth to a baby girl, she’s busy embracing motherhood. But, for the runaways, life is never that easy...
A chance encounter with Joseph’s ex-girlfriend, Tara, has explosive consequences for the new lovers, and all three are forced back to Cornish shores. Meanwhile, motherhood is not the joy Penny thought it would be—she’s heading for a breakdown and fast!
The bubble is burst, the idyll shattered.
Tara has a secret and only Joseph knows what it is. Despite being asked to trust him, Layla can’t help but question what the secret is and what it has to do with them. As Penny arrives in Cornwall too, some friends will pull together, others will not.
This secret, Layla suspects, will tear them all apart.

About the Author

Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name - Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it's Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni - although she does indeed know a Shanni - just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading, writing, eating and drinking - all four of which keep her busy enough.

After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. She is the author of contemporary Cornish romance - The Runaway Year - published in 2013 by Omnific Publishing. The Runaway Ex is the second in the Runaway series.

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Writing The Runaway Ex
By Shani Struthers

The Runaway Year was meant as a stand-alone novel. I’ve always loved the North of Cornwall, how wild and rugged it is, and I wanted to set a book there, revolving around a group of friends and the various trials and tribulations they face. Well I did that and immediately saw potential for a follow-up. Layla, Joseph, Hannah, Jim, Penny and Richard – they’re a great set of characters to work with, and it was hard to let them go.

The Runaway Ex sees a new character burst onto the scene, however, a blast from the past and mentioned only briefly in The Runaway Year. Although Hannah is still a major influence in the book her ‘voice’ is replaced by Tara – Joseph’s ex. This time around it is she, Penny and Layla who tell the story, which is set over two weeks as spring melts into summer.

It was great fun developing Tara’s character and witnessing the turmoil she causes amongst the more established ‘runaways’! There’s a serious side to the book though, not only because it deals with Penny and her post-natal depression (yep, Penny hasn’t taken to motherhood like a duck to water!) but also because of the ‘secret’ Tara has. What is it? You’ll have to read it to see!

Be warned, The Runaway Ex is grittier than The Runaway Year, we see a different side to certain characters, a more ‘uncomfortable’ side and it all rollercoasters towards an explosive end. As gritty as it is though, it’s also sad, you’ll need a box of tissues beside you when you’re reading. I certainly did!

The Runaway Ex Excerpts

By Shani Struthers

Excerpt #1
“Layla, what Tara and I had, it can’t hold a candle to what we’ve got. You’re the one I love, the only one.”
     “You promise?” She was tired suddenly of arguing. He was going to help Tara with or without her consent. That was one thing she knew with absolute clarity.
     “I promise.”
     “And you’ll tell me soon? It will come between us if you don’t.”
     “I’ll tell you everything and you’ll understand.”
     She had to say it, she had to be honest. “It feels like you don’t trust me.”
     “I do trust you. Do you trust me?”
     When she faltered he had to prompt her.
     “Yes,” she finally answered.
     As he reached out to tuck her hair behind her ear, she braced herself for the question she knew he was going to ask.
     “I just want her to know she’s not alone.”
     “I know.”
     “So, is it okay, can she come back with us?”
     For the first time Layla had an inkling of the impossible situation he was in, that they were in. The ex had shown up in need of help. Joseph was a nice guy. That’s what she loved about him, his kindness, his compassion—qualities Alex had lacked. Joseph would do anything for anyone, even Tara. She should trust him. She should.
“Yes.” She wished she could feel more certain about her answer. But even if she wasn’t, she had convinced him. He looked visibly relieved, color returning to his cheeks. “As long as it’s not Australia’s Most Wanted we’re accompanying back.”

The Runaway Ex Quotes
By Shani Struthers

     “Tara,” he said a third time and then she had no doubt.
     He had barely changed in all the time they had been apart. Beautiful still, his hair lighter perhaps, his eyes the cornflower she remembered. A face she had loved to distraction in another lifetime. A face she had let go when adventure had called.
     He smiled at her then, a smile as soft as the memories she had of him.
     It was. It was Joseph Scott standing before her, like a gift from the gods.

The phone, where was the bloody phone?
     “Hi, Penny. Did you lose the phone again?”
     Penny couldn’t help but laugh.
     “Hi, Layla! Yep, I lost the phone—again. Damn those cordless inventions.”
     “Is it okay to talk? Is Scarlett asleep?”
     “She’s cat-napping. There’s a difference, a big one, unfortunately.”
     Immediately Layla was sympathetic. “Is she still not settling?”
     “Put it this way, I reckon world peace will be settled before she is.”

     “Wow!” said Layla. “So Tara’s in Florence. That’s a coincidence.”
     “But that’s all it is, a coincidence.”
     “So how is she? What’s her news? Is she on holiday here?”
     “A holiday of sorts,” Joseph replied, ignoring her first two questions.

     “I know it sounds bad...” he started.
     “Bad? Joseph, are you deliberately trying to be facetious?”
     “No, look, it’s not a secret, that’s the wrong way to describe it. It’s a... a situation.”
     “A situation you can tell me about?”
     “So it’s a secret, whichever way you dress it up.”

     “Are you going to tell your parents or just turn up on their doorstep?” Layla asked.
     Like I turned up on yours? The barb was clear.
      “I... I don’t know,” Tara replied. “To be honest, I hadn’t thought that far.”
     “Perhaps you should—think that far, I mean.”

Look, I’m trying here. I’m trying to be Mother of the Year. I’m doing everything I can, but she hates me. Yes, that’s right, hates me. She screams when she sees me at night, in the morning, through the day. Nothing I do is right. I can’t seem to make her happy, to make her gurgle, to make her coo. None of the things that those bloody textbooks I devour tell you babies should do. But I try, Richard, I really, really try.
     If only she had said those words in that order, but she hadn’t. They had come out stuttering, disjointed and mixed-up instead. Even she thought she was an idiot.

     “And you want to try this baby-led nonsense now? In a packed restaurant?”
     “What harm can it do? I’ll get the spaghetti bolognaise and she can have some of mine.”
     “But she’ll make a mess,” Penny declared. That red velvet dress, it was from Boden. It had cost a bomb, and she didn’t want it ruined.
     “She won’t.” Richard was adamant. Leaning forward to tickle Scarlett under the chin, he continued, “Will you, my tweedle-pop?”
     Tweedle-pop? Had he completely lost the plot?

     “Her name is Scarlett,” Richard replied.
     “Yes, I know that.”
     “So, how come you never say it?” Richard sounded pissed off. “It’s... it’s weird.”
     “Weird?” Penny couldn’t believe it. “You’re the one who’s weird, Richard.”

     “Before you say it—” Layla couldn’t keep her voice from sounding waspish. “Yes, I do trust you. You’re the one that’s paranoid, not me.”
     “I’m not paranoid,” Joseph immediately retaliated. “I just get the feeling you’re not being honest with me, that’s all. You say you trust me but I’m not sure you do.”
     Oh, and you blame me for that, do you? she thought, but refrained from saying it. Acting the harridan every time Tara’s name was mentioned was not going to endear her to anyone.

“Offer Tara an olive branch,” said Hannah. “Suggest meeting up, just the two of you, get an insight into her personality. Don’t be so ready to condemn her without good reason.”
     Layla balked slightly at the accusation.
     “And you don’t think sharing a secret with my boyfriend—a secret that’s upset him—and then telling him he’s not allowed to share it with me is good enough reason to condemn her? I can’t wait for this holiday to be over, to get away from here.”

     “I never stopped loving you, Joseph, despite leaving you. I... I still love you.”
     “I love you too, Tara.”
     As she turned away from him, he caught her arm.
     “You can do this, you know. We can do this.”
     “I know.”
     “If you want me, I’m here for you, every step of the way.”

     “I haven’t left the baby, Richard. I’ve just come to stay with friends for a few days. I’ll be back soon.”
     “Her name is Scarlett,” Richard suddenly yelled down the phone. “Why can’t you bloody well say it?”

     “Strange situation for you, though, isn’t it? Caught between two women.”
     Joseph looked a bit bemused by Penny’s comment. Bemused or annoyed?
     “I’m not caught between anyone.”

Joseph pulled her to her feet. “Good luck, Tara,” he said. “With everything.”
     “Thanks for the wish.” Attempting a stab at humor, she added, “Let’s hope Lady Luck hasn’t forgotten me entirely.”
     No sooner had she said it than she was in his arms. He was holding her close, as close as he used to, close enough so she could feel how much he was trembling.

     Tara was in turmoil? What about the turmoil she was in? That they had put her in?
     “Is that all you’re worried about?” Her voice rose with each word. “Your precious Tara?” Shaking her head in disbelief, she continued, “What about me, Joseph? Since she’s been back on the scene, you seem to have forgotten all about me!”
     “Don’t be so bloody stupid.” Joseph looked exasperated as well as angry. “I haven’t forgotten about you, but the world, it doesn’t revolve around you, you know.”

     “What do you mean, good reason? I’ve given you no reason not to trust me.” Joseph’s voice was low now, even more menacing somehow than when he’d been shouting.

My Review of the Runaway Year

Thoroughly enjoyable story of Layla’s escape to Cornwall. Loved the backdrop and the characters, especially those that drop into the pub as well as Layla’s mother. There is always one character that you love to hate and Layla’s ex fits the bill perfectly – a real rat! I loved the way the story all came together in the end even if it did give me kittens halfway through! A lovely romantic read, gorgeous Cornish scenery and some great characters make this a delightful read. Looking forward to reading 'The Runaway Ex' next.




In Levasseur’s debut middle-grade sci-fi novel, a friendly extraterrestrial girl whisks a Nebraska farm boy away for a wild adventure of Martian intrigue, rebellion and invasion.
- Kirkus Review

Book Details:

Book Title: Aoléon The Martian Girl: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Saga - Part 1: First Contact, written and illustrated by Brent LeVasseur
Category:  Middle-Grade, 73 pages
Genre: Science-fiction and Fantasy
​, Action Adventure​

Publisher: Aoléon Press
Release date: January 31, 2015
Available for review in:  pdf
Will send books: Internationally
Tour dates: Dec and Jan
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Crop circles magically appear in Farmer Johnson’s field. A mysterious light sweeps over the night sky and awakens Farmer Johnson and Gilbert, the boy next door.

Curious, Gilbert ventures out to discover the source of the light and stumbles into a beautiful Martian girl sitting in a crop circle. Farmer Johnson also investigates the strange light, and thinking that Gilbert and Aoléon are vandals, he chases them. But they sprint to Aoléon’s saucer and escape only to be pursued by the U.S. Air Force.

Gilbert has never been attacked by swarms of giant killer robots. Never met strange aliens from other worlds. Never skyboarded across a megalopolis hidden deep inside an extinct volcano. Never trekked across a vast Martian desert. And never been eaten alive by a gigantic slor (well, almost never, unless you count Billy the fat bully at school).

And luckily, he has never ever confronted an evil ruler of Mars bent on conquering the Earth to steal its cows.

Never...until now!

This may be the adventure Gilbert always wished for.

If only he can survive.

Meet the Author:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl 

My Review

Intended for middle-grade readers ( age 10-14) this sci-fi adventure of meeting a Martian girl is likely to engage the younger end although the language at times is quite sophisticated and semi-technical, so likely to stretch older readers too.
The illustrations are lovely and I can see this developing into a range of branded merchandise if the series takes off.
It is humourous in places – more of that please as flying cows certainly caused a chuckle, as did Aoleon being told off by her mother.
I can’t wait until my sci-fi mad seven year old is able to read it.