Home and Heart

Coming from Silver on November 26th is Home and Heart, a novella for Christmas.

 

As well as my two leading men, Ben Elliot and Adam Prescott, H&H has some walk-on parts for two rather special characters — Teazle and Bracken. Teazle is a chocolate brown Curly Coated Retriever who at times seems more feline than canine, and Bracken was Golden Retriever with a wonderfully loving disposition and some charming idiosyncrasies. Bracken died far too young of cancer on the spleen but I promise none of that sadness is in H&H — there he is his happy eccentric self, just as he now is in the Summer Land

 

* * * * *

Deep in the Cotswolds in the heart of England, Ben Elliot settles in for a quiet Christmas house-sitting and caring for an elderly woman’s two dogs while she’s away. When her black-sheep grandson, Adam Prescott, turns up on the doorstep, Ben takes in the human stray as well. Destitute and betrayed by family, boyfriend, and Fate, Adam has lost all faith in others, and in himself.

 

Determined to help, Ben soon loses his heart to the other man and believes Adam has feelings for him, too. Then Adam’s ex shows up, offering him the world if only Adam will come back to him. Now Ben must choose whether to step aside, or reach for the only gift he wants this Christmas.

 

Very Short Excerpt:

 

Alternating sips of the hot soup with mouthfuls of bread and relishing the internal warmth the food spread through him, Adam waited until the other man slid a baking tray half-filled with frozen chips into the hot oven. “So,” he said, more loudly than he’d intended. “I bet you have questions. Ask them.”

 

“None of my business,” Ben replied evenly, not turning round. “How do you like your eggs?”

 

“Runny yolks. Are you saying you don’t have any problems with me being here?” Adam heard the belligerence in his voice, but it was too late to tone it down. “Because if you do, you don’t have to stay. I can look after the dogs.”

 

“No way.” Ben snorted. “I have a contract and I’m not breaking it. If you have a problem with that, you can just hop in your car and bugger off.” Their raised voices started a frenzy of barking from the conservatory, and Ben rolled his eyes. “It’s a safe bet one of the first things Mrs B says to me tomorrow will be to ask if Teazle likes you, so if you want to get into your gran’s good books, you better make friends with her first.”

 

“I don’t need your advice!”

 

“Fine.” Ben strode out of the room and Adam heard a door open. Then heavy paws clattered towards the kitchen. Two large dogs came barrelling in and Adam temporarily forgot his anger.

 

“Oh, you beauties,” he said, smiling in spite of himself. Barely over the threshold, the golden retriever dropped a shoulder and flipped, sliding towards him across the tiled floor, already on its back for belly-rubs. The curly-coated retriever was more circumspect. She scrutinized him before permitting him to make a fuss of her. Then she sat beside his chair and leaned her head on his thigh. “I think I pass the canine inspection,” Adam said smugly, enjoying Ben’s irritated scowl.

Place Holder Pic for Home and Heart - a Cotswold house

I’ve just learned that Home and Heart, my Christmas story, has been accepted by Silver Publishing, and I’m turning happy cartwheels. It was supposed to be a short story for their White Christmas submissions call, but it sort of over-ran the required word count, coming in at just over 28,000.

 

Home and Heart is set in Burford, a small country town in the heart of the UK’s Cotswolds…

 

It’s December, and Ben Elliot of Home-Safe House & Pet Sitting is looking after Mrs Bonney’s home and two dogs while the elderly lady is away for two months recovering from an operation. When her black-sheep grandson, Adam Prescott, turns up on the doorstep, Ben has to take in the stray human as well. Adam, hurting and betrayed by family, boyfriend and Fate, needs to have his faith in others restored, and Ben decides he is the one to do it.

 

Having gone through an acrimonious split with his boyfriend, Adam has no home, no money, no job and nowhere to go, except his grandmother’s house. The son of an abusive, violent father, there’s a lot of anger and resentment in him, demons he must exorcise. When he learns an unpleasant truth about his father, Ben helps him come to terms with it, and to find a new direction for his life – together, Ben hopes. But then Adam’s ex-boyfriend shows up, offering him the world on a platter if only Adam will come back to him.

 

Christmas may not be a time of celebration for Ben.

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