It’s always a pleasure to hand over the blog for a day to Jenny Kane – I always know it’s in a safe pair of hands, and it’s particularly good to be able to do so on a launch day. Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, the third novel in the Mill Grange series, is published as an e-book today by Aria Fiction, with the paperback to follow on 10th June. I’m really so sorry I haven’t been able to read the whole series – but you might remember how very much I enjoyed the first, Midsummer Dreams (you’ll find my review here). Although it’s not essential, you might just like to start there too – and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can even read them all for free. And another gorgeous cover for this one – I’ll hand over to Jenny to tell you all about it (including those important buying links…!).
A huge thank you to Anne, for inviting me to her blog on launch day for 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.)
It’s a huge thrill to see this novel ‘out in the wild’. Every time I write a novel, I never quite believe anyone will read it. So, to be asked to write book three of the Mill Grange series, because books one and two sold so well, was a dream come true. (Book four is well underway too!)
The idea for the Mill Grange novels came to me while I was running a writing retreat at Northmoor House on Exmoor. Northmoor – a stunningly beautiful Victorian manor house – has become a regular haunt for myself, my business partner, Alison Knight, and our Imagine writing students.
Every time I visit, there is more about the place that intrigues and inspires me – whether it’s the bizarrely eclectic paintings on the walls, the original Victorian wallpaper, the walled garden (complete with chickens – who have become the stars of Mill Grange), the woods that run down to the Tarr Steps, or the narrow servants beds in the back rooms, the old scullery, or the gorgeous kitchens, with their scrubbed wooden table and old fireplaces.
Northmoor very quickly became Mill Grange in my mind- that just left me to create a new purpose for the property and characters to place within it.
The purpose of Mill Grange? Well, if you haven’t read books one or two, I shall keep that a secret – but I will say that, during the development of that purpose, the main characters, Thea, Shaun, Sam and Tina discover an archaeological site. It is that discovery which brings Tom Harris and Helen Rogers to Mill Grange – and book three is their story.
Let me share the blurb:
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…
Alongside Helen and Tom’s not-quite relationship, plenty of other things are happening at Mill Grange – and those things are often discussed during the consumption of scones…
‘There is something rather delicious about sneaking off for morning coffee on a work day.’ Tina raised her coffee cup in salute to Thea and Helen as they waited for Sybil to deliver a round of her famous cheese scones.
‘I ought to be scraping a ton of mud off the shovels ready for the new guests this afternoon,’ Helen dropped a sugar cube into her mug, ‘but I can live with the guilt.’
Looking at her two friends across the Spode covered, table, Thea smiled. ‘I’m going to miss you two.’
‘You’re only going for eight weeks. Anyway, you’ll be far too busy being famous to miss the likes of us,’ Helen gave her a friendly nudge, ‘and too knackered from all the digging to notice the time passing.’
Thea laughed, ‘The famous bit I doubt, the knackered bit I can’t argue with. I ache enough after a day helping you and Tom on our fortlet, these days. A full eight week dig with television cameras watching my every move is going to kill me.’
‘Don’t be daft.’ Tina looked up as Sybil arrived at their table, ‘I swear your scones smell more delicious every time we come in here.’
Sybil rolled her eyes, ‘Praise indeed seeing as at least one of you – Thea – is here every other day testing the merchandise.’
Thea stuck out her tongue. ‘Well, the chicken’s eggs need delivering. It would be rude to walk all this way and not sample the goods.’
‘It’s a twenty-minute walk! You make it sound like you need Kendal Mint Cake and crampons!’
‘I’m going to miss your cooking almost as much as I’ll miss you, Sybil.’
Picking up a large paper bag from where she’d placed it on the next table, the café owner passed it to Thea. ‘Well, these should keep you going for a while at least.’
Having peeped inside the top of the bag, Thea got up and gave Sybil a hug. ‘Thank you.’
‘I didn’t want Shaun to go without my scones either.’
‘Shaun?’ Thea laughed. ‘If you think a bag of your scones will last long enough to share with him, you are under a serious misconception!’
Watching Sybil skip off to her next customer, Thea was suddenly emotional. She was only going away to work for a while, and she was going with the man she loved, yet it felt as if she was leaving Mill Grange for good.
Cradling the warm paper bag, Thea realised with a start that it had been almost a year since she’d first arrived at the manor house where she, Tina, Sam, Helen, Tom and Shaun – when he wasn’t away filming – lived. Along with their friends, Mabel and Bert, they ran the manor as a retreat for former military personnel recovering from various injuries and debilitating experiences. Part of that recovery therapy included working on uncovering a Roman Fortlet that she and Shaun had found in the manor’s garden.
The excavation, a rare find for Exmoor, an area of Britain which the Romans had hardly touched, was a popular choice of work for Mill Grange’s visitors. In fact, it was so much in demand that, now the digging of the site was almost complete, they’d set up a fake dig so that their visitors could still learn archaeological techniques during their stay.
Having worked for years as an archaeologist and historian at the Roman Baths in Bath alongside Helen, Thea was finding the dual challenges of running a manor house, being host to guests, and co-managing a dig, immensely rewarding. So why am I going to the Cotswolds to be a TV presenter?
I hope that has whetted the appetite! It’s always a challenge to find an extract without spoilers!
If you’d like to buy Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, you can find it from all good paperback and ebook retailers, including:
Many thanks to Anne for letting me wave a flag for Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange with her today,
Thank you Jenny – it’s always a pleasure!
About the author
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).
She 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 also created four 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.
All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk.