Saturday, 18 June 2016

Blog Tour: A Family Holiday by Bella Osborne

Happy Saturday!!

I am smiling today as I feel really lucky to be part of the blog tour for the great new book, A Family Holiday by Bella Osborne. 

Bella has kindly shared the first chapter of her book with us, but has a great giveaway, with a chance to win a gorgeous tote bag featuring the beautiful cover of her new book. 

So keep reading.....and don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win this gorgeous tote bag.

What is A Family Holiday about?

Heartwarming and funny from an exciting new talent’ – Katie Fforde
She’ll do whatever it takes to keep this family together…
As the nanny to four quirky but loveable children, Charlie French has learnt that if there was ever a cement shortage Weetabix would be a viable substitute and that YouTube videos can go viral in seconds, much to her horror. But, most importantly, she's learnt that whatever happens you stick together as a family.
When tragedy strikes, Charlie is forced to decide whether it’s time to move on or fight to keep the children she loves. With the distraction of the children's gorgeous Uncle Felix and the chance of a holiday in stunning Antigua, she’s left wondering if turquoise seas can wash away their present troubles. Is the pull of white sand beaches too tempting to resist or will paradise fail to keep them all together?
A gorgeous summery beach read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell.

Extract from A Family Holiday

Chapter One
Millie had forgotten her knickers again. The grinning toddler swung her legs happily as she sat on the toilet at the solicitor’s office. With all the children still off school and having been let down at the last moment, Charlie had been forced to bring them with her to the meeting. This was far from ideal. She was their nanny; not a member of the family, just a paid employee whose job stability was now very unclear.
‘Millie, it’s important that you keep your skirt down. Keep your bottom covered up, okay?’ said Charlie as they washed and dried their hands.
‘Bottom,’ repeated Millie with a giggle. She gripped Charlie's hand tightly as they left the toilets, something the three-year-old would have resisted a couple of months ago due to her desire to be independent, but things had changed and Millie now needed Charlie close to her.
In the waiting room sat the other three children: Ted, George and Eleanor. Ted, the eldest at fifteen, was studiously ignoring everything around him. George had had a recent growth spurt and looked older than his ten years, making the two-year gap between him and Eleanor appear to be a lot more.
Eleanor’s face looked thin and pale and her eyes were full of sadness. Charlie sat down next to her and gently patted her hand as Millie inelegantly climbed onto the seat next to her, clutching her beloved Winnie the Pooh toy and immediately revealing her bare bottom to the rest of the solicitor’s waiting clients.
George sniggered and tried to exchange smiles with his older brother but Ted was looking deeply serious as he stared at the floor. George’s smile disappeared and he too started to study the carpet.
Eventually a very young-looking man called them into his office. He met them all solemnly at the door, introduced himself as Jonathan Steeple, and shook Charlie’s hand. ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ he said and all Charlie could do was swallow hard and nod her response. They settled themselves into chairs as the solicitor squeezed behind a giant desk.
‘Normally I would read out the wills word for word but...’ he looked at the children all staring back at him. ‘It’s probably more appropriate to just focus on the key elements.’
‘Yes, I think that would be best, Mr Steeple,’ said Charlie.
‘Please call me Jonathan.’
A loud repetitive knock came at the door as it was simultaneously opened.
‘I’m so sorry, Mr Steeple, this is Miss Talbot, she’s…’ but the young receptionist could no longer be heard.
‘I’m Ruth Talbot, we had an appointment.’ A thin ordinary-looking woman had shut the door and was stood glaring at the solicitor, until she noticed Charlie and her glare immediately changed direction.
‘Hello Ruth. I’m Charlie. We met at the funeral.’ Charlie stood balancing Millie on her hip and belatedly offered a hand to shake. Charlie always felt awkward in serious situations and this was one of the worst. Ruth nodded and only now seemed to notice her nieces and nephews.
‘Edward, George… girls,’ she bobbed her head in what Charlie assumed was her best attempt at a greeting, before returning her stare to Charlie. ‘You’re the au pair.’
‘No, I’m the nanny,’ replied Charlie, sitting down. If anything was designed to annoy Charlie it was being demoted.
‘An unqualified one, I understand, which I think you’ll find makes you an au pair.’
It was hard but Charlie held her tongue. Now was not the time to start a fight.
Jonathan introduced himself again and pulled forward a chair for Ruth to sit down.
‘I’m sorry but this is a family matter, you shouldn’t be here.’ Ruth was pointing at Charlie. She was clearly not one for sugar-coating what she thought.
‘Your father asked me to come,’ Charlie gave a smug smile and turned away from Ruth.
‘But he’s in a nursing home…’
‘Yep, he calls every week. He’s seized up with arthritis, Ruth, but he still has all his marbles.’
‘Well, really…’ Ruth shook her head, but said no more.
Jonathan waited a moment and when nobody else objected he cleared his throat and proceeded to read through the highlights, if you could call them that, of Helen and Toby Cobley’s wills. Written shortly after they’d had Millie, the mirror wills appointed Felix Cobley and Ruth Talbot as joint guardians and trustees. The wills were very clear that the children should be kept together, despite Toby not being Ted’s natural father.
Ted was frowning as he took in the information. The sudden loss of his parents meant he had quickly become the adult he so longed to be.
‘We’re going to be looked after by Felix?’ asked Ted.
Eleanor blew her nose and cried quietly into a tissue as Charlie tried to comfort her with one arm and restrain a bored Millie with the other.
‘Who’s Felix?’ asked Charlie, having not heard him mentioned before.
‘Will you stop interrupting?’ said Ruth, followed by a series of tutting noises.
‘How rude!’ said Charlie, but Ted was already answering her question.
‘Felix is Dad’s loser of a brother who flipped out and ran off years ago,’ explained Ted, throwing himself back into the office chair and making it topple precariously. Jonathan opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Charlie.
‘Where does this leave us right now?’ she asked, more than a little confused by the information overload.
‘Well,’ cut in Ruth, although she was speaking directly to Jonathan. ‘As we have no contact details for Felix, that makes me effectively sole guardian.’
Jonathan gave her what looked like a very practised smile. ‘Not exactly. We have finally managed to track down Mr Cobley and we’re awaiting a response.’
‘Good luck with that,’ snorted Ted.
‘We don’t have to move house, do we?’ asked Eleanor, her eyes wide.
‘For now it’s best if everything stays as it is. We will pay all essential bills, including your salary,’ Jonathan nodded reassuringly at Charlie. ‘As long as you are happy to carry on in your role as primary care giver until a guardian is appointed. It is an unusual situation but Social Services will be able to help you through this.’ Charlie felt her stomach clench at the mention of Social Services and bile rose in her throat. Jonathan quickly passed her a pre-poured glass of water.
‘Thank you.’
Ruth was checking her watch and frowning. ‘Would you put all of this in writing and confirm what powers we have over the estate. ‘We’ being the family, obviously.’ Ruth gave a withering glance in Charlie’s direction as she stood up.
‘Only the executors, which is us, Sedgley, Steeple and Thomas, have the power to administer the estate until the guardian and trustee is formally appointed. And the guardian’s appointment will be subject to Social Services’ approval.’
‘Do Aunt Ruth and Uncle Felix have to fight to the death?’ said George, leaning forward as Eleanor automatically recoiled.
‘How ridiculous!’ said Ruth. She turned to Jonathan, ‘I’ll be expecting you to send minutes of this meeting,’ she said, before addressing the children. ‘Take care of each other, and call me if you have any problems.’ This successfully made Charlie bristle but she didn’t react; instead she gave her sweetest smile as Ruth left.
Ted looked at Charlie, colour rising in his cheeks. ‘So basically, we’ve been left in their wills like an old tea set. Worst still, we’ve been left to two people, neither of whom has done anything for us in the past.’
‘Aunt Ruth sends book tokens at Christmas,’ added Eleanor, ever the voice of diplomacy, as George snorted his derision.
Ted was shaking his head. Charlie could feel the frustration emanating from him but before she could attempt to allay his fears he stood up abruptly.
‘This is bloody ridiculous!’ he bellowed before roughly pushing back his chair and stomping out of the room.
‘Bloody ridiculous!’ repeated Millie as she lifted her skirt and flashed at the solicitor. Charlie let a heavy sigh escape.
Looking back, Ted had been more than a challenge to care for; underneath his couldn’t-care-less exterior was a boy who longed to have more of his mother’s time. In Ted’s eyes Charlie’s arrival had further displaced his mother. At the start there were full-blown shouting matches between them, and Charlie had placed Ted at the top of her ‘Kipper List’.
The ‘Kipper List’ was a long list of people that Charlie would like to beat around the head with a wet kipper. Yes, a wet kipper was her weapon of choice. Over the years she had been offered various suggestions for how to manage her fiery temper and she had found this the most effective. The original suggestion had been a lot less colourful and nowhere near as effective, but Charlie’s variation seemed to work a treat. Charlie could happily visualise slapping the offending individual with a wet kipper and she felt it was a fitting approach to those who upset her, whilst unlikely to get her into any serious trouble. Charlie had only ever told one person about her ‘Kipper List’ method of anger management; a particularly uptight therapist who looked like she needed her own stress-release mechanism. However, when Charlie had explained the process the therapist had unhelpfully pointed out that kippers were not large and wet, as Charlie had described, and had provided a detailed account of the herring-to-kipper process, during which Charlie had visualised the therapist being battered senseless with a giant wet kipper whilst she herself stayed completely calm, which proved beyond doubt that the method truly worked.
Charlie made her apologies to the solicitor over the top of Millie’s repetition of ‘Bloody ridiculous!’ There were much simpler words she struggled to pronounce like ‘banana’ or ‘cereal’ but ‘bloody’ and ‘ridiculous’ evidently weren’t causing her any such issues.
As Charlie tried to herd the children through the waiting area as quickly as possible a tall blonde-haired man strode past them. He glanced at Charlie, but as he saw the miserable- looking children surrounding her he quickly turned his head away. Still, he wasn’t to know that she was only the nanny.

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