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...
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
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
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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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!
“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.
you’ll tell me soon? It will come between us if you don’t.”
tell you everything and you’ll understand.”
had to say it, she had to be honest. “It feels like you don’t trust me.”
do trust you. Do you trust me?”
When she faltered he
had to prompt her.
“Yes,” she finally answered.
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.”
“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.”
“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
Penny couldn’t help but laugh.
“Hi, Layla! Yep, I lost the phone—again. Damn those cordless inventions.”
it okay to talk? Is Scarlett asleep?”
cat-napping. There’s a difference, a big one, unfortunately.”
Layla was sympathetic. “Is she still not settling?”
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.
know it sounds bad...” he started.
are you deliberately trying to be facetious?”
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.”
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,
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?”
harm can it do? I’ll get the spaghetti bolognaise and she can have some of mine.”
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?”
he completely lost the plot?
“Her name is Scarlett,” Richard replied.
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.”
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.”
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.”
she turned away from him, he caught her arm.
do this, you know. We can do this.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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
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.