Morning my lovelies! Today I’m delighted to invite Jenny Kane over on the blog tour of her newest book. Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange: For the love of Bert and Mabel. Enjoy!!
Many thanks to Chelle for inviting me over to her fabulous blog, to help celebrate the launch of Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange.
Spring Blossoms is the third novel in the Mill Grange series – following on from Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange and Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange. (It can be read as a standalone novel.)
Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.
Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex-wife suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.
As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most…
Based on Exmoor, in and around Mill Grange – a Victorian manor house turned retreat – Spring Blossoms continues the story of Thea, Shaun, Tina, Sam and, (as you can see from the blurb), Tom and Helen. It also tells the story of Bert and Mabel – a couple in their seventies and eighties. To my delight, it is these two characters that appear to have stolen the hearts of my readers more than any other. They have quickly become the stalwarts of Mill Grange.
I have always loved writing older characters. Their greater experience of life – often combined with wit and differing levels of diverse attitudes – makes them fascinating folk to create on paper.
I was very fortunate when I was growing up to have two sets of incredible grandparents. Both of my nans and grandads were full of fun, had larger than life personalities and – most important of all – they always had time for other people.
Mabel – who is quite a bossy old lady on occasion – has a heart of gold. Mill Grange could not run without her.
Bert – her ever patient husband – is one of life’s chucklers. His unending sense of humour is a boost to all around him – especially to Sam (who suffers from PTSD in the form of severe claustrophobia), to whom he is something of a mentor, and to Dylan (Tom’s five year old son), to whom he is a grandad figure.
Bert and Mabel were inspired – not just by my own grandparents – but by the characters of Stan and Dora I invented for a previous novel (A Cornish Wedding). I loved writing their roles so much that I knew I had to have another set of zest-for-life pensioners within my Mill Grange series.
In Spring Blossoms however, life is sending some unwanted twists Bert and Mabel’s way…
…Helen had been so caught up in her own thoughts that she hadn’t heard the quiet sobs until her feet were almost on the kitchen’s threshold.
Hovering in the corridor, unsure whether to move forward or leave Mabel in peace, Helen was relieved when Tina arrived at her side.
Helen whispered, ‘I think Mabel’s crying.’
‘Listen.’ As the sound of someone trying not to make a noise crying reached their ears, Helen mouthed, ‘She’s such a proud woman, I didn’t know if my going in would be welcome, or if I’d embarrass her.’
Tina didn’t hesitate. ‘You put the kettle on and then phone Bert. He should be here if his wife’s upset. I’ll talk to Mabel.’
Wiping her hands down her side, Tina sat next to Mabel at the kitchen table. Easing the pen and shopping list pad out of the old lady’s hand, she reached for the tissue box Helen had pushed in her direction when en route to the kettle.
‘Mabel? Whatever is it? Do you feel unwell?’
Tina realised with a shock that, without her usual indomitable spirit, Mabel actually looked like what she was – a woman in her late seventies. She and her husband, Bert, always had so much energy; so much drive, that they always came across as being at least a decade younger than they were. Seeing Mill Grange’s catering guru so distraught was both frightening and moving.
‘Bert?’ Tina looked across to Helen, who immediately stopped her passage towards the manor’s phone. ‘What about Bert, Mabel?’
‘All our lives we’ve been together. I can’t remember a time without him.’
A sickening feeling grew in Tina’s stomach as she took Mabel’s hand. ‘Is Bert poorly?’
‘He says he’s fine, but I know he’s pretending. He’s so damn stubborn. Won’t even let me call the doctor.’
Not commenting on the irony of Mabel calling her placid husband stubborn, when she was the mistress of the art, Tina asked, ‘Is he at home in bed?’
‘Says it’s just a touch of the cold, but he’s eighty-two, Tina and…’ Disappearing into a handful of tissues, Mabel gave her nose a blow. The act seemed to steady her, and Tina could feel her friend give herself a metaphorical shake. ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t burden you; especially not on a new guest day. Bert’s probably right, it’s just a cold.’
‘Cold or not, I think he should see a doctor. How about I get Sam to talk to Bert?’
Mabel sniffed as she picked the pen and pad back up. ‘I didn’t like to ask Sam. I know Bert would like to see him, but, well…’
Tina immediately understood Mabel’s reluctance. ‘Bert’s inside, in bed, and Sam still struggles to go indoors.’
‘Exactly. I didn’t want to put Sam in an awkward position.’
‘Why don’t we let Sam decide what he wants to do about that? Bert has done so much for him. If it wasn’t for Bert, Sam would still be sleeping in his tent every night, rather than the downstairs bedroom. Well, when we don’t have a guest in it.’
Mabel nodded as she wrote, ‘order potatoes’, on her pad. ‘Has Sam got upstairs yet?’
‘Halfway up the main staircase, but no further. The corridors upstairs are so narrow. Their enclosed nature is still a problem.’
‘But he’s getting there, and that’s what counts.’ Mabel’s eyes flashed with pride, but whether that pride was for Sam or for Bert for helping him, Tina wasn’t sure. Nor did she care. What mattered was getting a doctor to Bert as soon as possible. If Mabel was upset enough to show she was concerned, then something was terribly wrong…
If you’d like to know what happens to Bert, you can buy Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, from all good paperback and ebook retailers, including-
Many thanks for letting me chat about Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, with you today,
From the comfort of her cafe corner in Mid Devon, award winning author, Jenny Kane, wrote the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, (Aria 2021), Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, (Aria, 2020), Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Aria, 2020), A Cornish Escape (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), A Cornish Wedding (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).
(Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange will be published by Aria in March 2021)
Jenny has also written 3 novella length sequels to her Another Cup of…..books: Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016). These three seasonal specials are now available in one boxed set entitled Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection (Accent, 2016)
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Under the pen name, Jennifer Ash, Jenny has also written The Folville Chronicles (The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw, Outlaw Justice – published by Littwitz Press, 2016-2020), The Power of Three (Spiteful Puppet, 2020) and The Meeting Place (Spiteful Puppet, 2019). She has also created five audio scripts for ITV’s popular 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood.
Jenny Kane is the writer in residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She also co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. Jenny teaches a wide range of creative writing workshops including her popular ‘Novel in a Year’ course. (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk)
All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk
Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/