It's the most wonderful time of the year, they say. And in the little Cotswolds village of Honeycote, the festive season looks set to bring people more than a few surprises under the tree.
As Lucy Liddiard plans the festive lunch for her nearest and dearest, she has little idea of the dramas about to play out before the crackers are pulled and the corks popped. She knows the family brewery, Honeycote Ales, has seen better days. She knows her husband, Mickey, is an incorrigible flirt. But does she realise how close both are edging towards disaster?
As the nights draw in, garlands deck the halls and the carols ring out, there are secrets and lies, love and lust all waiting to be unwrapped.
Welcome to Honeycote, and a Christmas no one will ever forget...
** This book was originally published as 'Honeycote' **
A single bell tolled out with authoritative finality. Eye-watering winter sunshine drenched the little churchyard at Honeycote, highlighting the dewy cobwebs that stretched from grave to grave. A mound of earth indicated the most recent, the latest in a line of Liddiards that stretched back hundreds of years.
He craned his neck to assess the turnout. They were all there. Patrick, seemingly unperturbed, the only betrayal of any emotion being the speed at which he smoked his cigarette before tossing the nub end into the freshly dug hole. Sophie and Georgina stood behind him, unnaturally pale in their black school coats, lending an air of Victorian melodrama to the tableau. He thought this was probably their first funeral, if you didn’t count the elaborate arrangements they’d made for various guinea pigs and goldfish over the years. Kay was chic in rigidly tailored black, a huge hat and impossibly high heels – he knew she’d be wearing stockings. Lawrence was at her side, etiquette requiring them to be united. Even Cowley was there from the bank, in a shapeless suit, his Christmas Biro clipped into the top pocket, no doubt luxuriating in a morning away from his desk: this was about as much fun as Cowley ever had.
And Lucy. She’d rejected widow’s weeds in favour of palest grey, her only concession to mourning a black velvet ribbon that held back her curls. She was wearing a pearl necklace he’d given her the Christmas before, an overgenerous gesture he hadn’t been able to afford. As ever.
As she arrived at the graveside to stand beside his brother James, there was just time for him to notice her slipping her hand into his before the vicar started intoning the familiar words.
As the first clod of earth began to hit the coffin, Mickey Liddiard summoned up every last drop of energy from his bones and pushed. But the lid of the coffin was stout, hewn from a mighty oak, and wouldn’t give...
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Woman & Home
'The perfect summer read, full of glamour and intrigue'