I am very honoured to be hosting the first day of the Blog Tour for Heidi Swain's gorgeous new book, Summer at Skylark Farm!
For a sneaky peak at the book, here is a chapter excerpt from the book, and you can read my review right here!For everyone dreaming of escaping to the country, fall in love this summer at Skylark Farm...
Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn't quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.
Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined - it's cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling.But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?
A story of love in the countryside from the author of the bestselling The Cherry Tree Café. Perfect forEscape to the Country dreamers, Cath Kidston fans and Country Living addicts!
At precisely 11:57 p.m., on Friday the 13th of March, I fumbled to answer my mobile phone yet again and in that moment, that much anticipated moment, when I was leaning in for my first longed-for kiss of the day and it was denied me, I knew I had reached a point in my life when something simply had to change. There was no work/life balance any more; no spontaneity, no fun, and I'd had enough.
Of course I didn't remember the blinding flash of enlightenment, the Bridget Jones 'that was the moment' freeze frame revelation as soon as I scrambled out of bed some time before six the following morning, but it did come back to haunt me. I can now say without a shadow of a doubt, that that was indeed the moment everything began to change.
Friday 13 March, 11:57 p.m.
'No, no no, don't go,' I whispered, quickly stretching across the bed as Jake sat up and began pulling his T-shirt back over his head. 'I'll only be a minute.'
'It's fine,' he whispered back, the faintest glimmer of a smile playing around his lips, but not quite making it as far as his eyes. 'I'm used to it.'
He leant over, kissed my forehead and headed for the door with his pillows and the throw from the chair tucked under his arm.
'Sorry,' I mouthed as he took one last look at me before slipping out quietly to take up his increasingly familiar Friday night spot on the sofa.
'I'm used to it,' he'd said. How tragic was that? How awful that he was resigned to the fact that our Friday Night Special would, at some point, be interrupted and that he'd be relegated to sleep on the sofa on the assumption that I would be working into the wee small hours. And to make matters worse, I was about to discover that this time the interruption was actually all my own fault.
It hadn't been my fault when my boss, Simon Hamilton, had called on the commute home, then during supper and then again in the middle of the very first episode of Gardeners' World (which, accordingly to Jake, was the only way to start the weekend from March onwards), but this time it most definitely was.
So exhausted from yet another full-on work week, I'd signed for the eagerly anticipated concert tickets a client had been clamouring for, grabbed my coat and bag and headed for the door. No one in their right mind wanted to be chained to the office and seven o'clock on a Friday night and I was completely unaware that I'd stuffed the tickets in my bag, along with my diary and half-eaten lunch when I scrambled to get out of the door and run for the bus.
'Amber? Are you there?'
'Yes,' I said, stifling a yawn, 'yes, I'm here.'
'So, have you got them?' Simon asked. He was beginning to sound unusually impatient. I think you must have because I've searched high and low this end.
'Sorry,' I apologised again, as I heard him slamming drawers and dropping papers, 'just give me a second and I'll have another look through my bag.'
'And if you have got them,' I heard him say before I put the phone on the bed and began yet another search, 'shall I send a courier or can you deliver them yourself in the morning?'
I rifled fruitlessly through the array of interior pockets for a few seconds then gave up and tipped everything out on the bed. My heart sank as I spotted the envelope amongst the detritus, now unattractively flecked with low-fat salad dressing courtesy of my lunch container, which had parted company with its lid.
'Oh God, Simon, I'm so sorry,' I winced, biting my kip as I picked the phone back up. 'Yes, yes, they are here. I'll deliver them first thing in the morning.'
'OK, no worries,' he breathed, sounding far happier. 'That's fine then. Don't worry about it, Amber. I know it's been a hell of a week. It could've happened to anyone. I'll expect you at the office around nine.'
He hung up before I had a chance to apologise for causing himself such a late night and, having scribbled myself a note to remember to deliver the tickets first thing in the morning, I repacked my bag, snuggled back down in the bed and drank in the still warm scent of my now absent other half. I ached to join him on the sofa and tempt him back to bed but my head was still too full of work stuff to relax properly and it was hardly fair to disturb him now.
I thumped my pillows into a more sleep-inducing shape, reminded myself that I loved my job and tried to ignore the little voice in my head that seemed determined to remind me that I used to love my job. For almost as long as I could remember my career had been my life, the whole of my life. Since graduating I had worked tirelessly to claw my way up the ladder and was currently considered the go-to girl in the company if you were struggling to secure tickets for, or gain access to, any sought-after or sold-out event.
Top shelf corporate hospitality was my speciality and I was riding high on my success, but God only knows I'd worked hard for it. The only problem was that now I'd fought my way to the top, I wasn't actually sure I wanted to stay there. Did I really want to be the go-to girl? Suddenly it didn't seem like the be all and end all any more.
I hadn't taken a holiday in the three years since I'd joined the company or a single sick day, and the increasingly continuous night time and weekend interruptions were getting beyond a joke. Somewhere along the line, my life had definitely gone awry. Just six months ago I wouldn't have made such a silly mistake with those tickets, or anything else for that matter, but now everything was beginning to feel different and I couldn't help thinking that perhaps I didn't care about it all quite as much as I should.
I used to roll my eyes at colleagues who bemoaned the fact that their work/life balance was suffering and that they'd missed yet another school play or family function. Work was my life, no balancing act required. So what if I missed another family christening or my mum's annual summer barbecue? I could send enough stork-shaped nappy bundles and elaborate floral bouquets to make up for my absence.
Or I could until Jake Somerville landed the other side of my desk eighteen months ago and unwittingly set about pricking my subconscious into questioning my priorities. It had been a long and slow process I admit, but suddenly it was beginning to feel like there was no way back, and to be completely honest I didn't want one. I was ready for a change, as long as it was a change for the better, of course.
'Amber, let me introduce you to my little brother.'
I recalled how I had swung round in my seat, a scowl firmly etched across my face. I didn't really have time that morning for Dan Somerville, the office Lothario and all round Golden Boy. I had a fast approaching deadline and still no car to meet one of our most influential European clients whose plane was just about to touch down at Heathrow.
'Jake, this is Amber,' Dan grinned, 'Amber, this is Jake.'
'Hi,' smiled Jake, offering me his hand.
'Hello,' I breathed as I stole a quick glance and struggled to ignore the unexpected eruption of butterflies in my stomach as a result.
After a near miss at my first Christmas office party I'd sworn off the whole attraction, dating and romance thing. I really didn't need that kind of distraction in my life, but in that moment I just knew my pupils had widened beyond all reason and the whole career driven ice queen act was traitorously legging it for the door.
So, does the lovely Jake manage to show Amber that there is more to life than being at everyone else's beck and call? You'd better buy the book here if you want to find out!