When I heard my lovely friend Kim Nash had just published her latest book, I simply had to ask her if I could feature it here on Linda’s Book Bag and luckily Kim agreed. I’m thrilled to bring you the opening chapter of Snowflakes over Muddleford Cove.
You’ll find other posts involving Kim on the blog as follows:
My review of Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove here (and now with a gorgeous new cover)
My chat with Kim about Sunshine and Second Chances here.
My review of Kim’s debut novel Amazing Grace here.
My review of Kim’s Escape to Giddywell Grange here.
Snowflakes Over Muddleford Cove was published yesterday, 5th December 2022, and is available for purchase here.
Snowflakes Over Muddleford Cove
Love is in the air and the festive season is just around the corner at the seaside town of Muddleford.
Nellie is happily settled in her gorgeous clifftop home. Her favourite evenings are those spent at her beach hut, cozying up under a blanket with her fiancé. There’s nothing quite like spending time together under the twinkly stars – complete with a delicious hot chocolate and her dog Norman sprawled on their feet.
But she can’t help feeling that there’s still something missing.
When Nellie meets Esme, a mysterious visitor to Muddleford, the pair of them come up with a plan to raise money for the local animal shelter, leading to the grand finale – a Christmas Ball.
But Esme’s keeping a secret about Nellie’s past that promises to throw her whole world upside down.
Will this be Nellie’s perfect Christmas for the first time in forever? Or will it turn into her worst nightmare – one that she’ll never forget?
Sometimes you have to go back to go forward.
An Extract from Snowflakes Over Muddleford Cove
‘Phwoar! Quick Nell. Sexy silver fox approaching from the right!’
I lifted my glasses to see what on earth my friend was talking about. Relaxing in the late autumn sunshine, sat outside beach hut number 136, she’d disturbed me daydreaming that Jack was massaging suntan lotion onto my shoulders, while I was lying on a beach in the Caribbean. We could well have been based on how blooming hot it was in Muddleford today. It was a scorcher for this time of year.
The silver fox that Shivani was referring to stopped just in front of us. I held my hand up to keep the midday sun out of my eyes.
‘Hi Nellie, how are you?’
‘Hello, Kenny, nice to see you. You’re brave jogging along the beach in this heat.’
I thought Shivani’s head was going to pop out of the top of her neck, the way she was straining.
‘Kenny, this is my friend Shivani.’
‘Charmed to meet you.’
Shivani positively preened as he reached across and offered his hand but then quickly withdrew it.
‘Sorry, actually I’m a bit sweaty.’
‘Ooh don’t mind me. I like a sweaty man,’ she giggled and flicked her hair. He turned to me.
‘I’ve had to come out at this time. You know early Sunday morning is a busy time for me Nellie. This is the first chance I’ll get before I’m back at work again later.’
‘You work so hard Kenny. You never stop. You should come and have dinner with Jack and me one of the nights. We’d love to spend some time with you.’
‘That would be so nice. It’s no fun eating on your own all the time. Thank you.’
‘I’ll get Jack to give you a call to sort out a date.’
‘Perfect! Thanks again. Anyway, I’d best get on.’ He started jogging on the spot. ‘See you soon ladies. Be good!’
‘Oh, where’s the fun in that?’ I was sure thatShivani winked at him as he left us and continued his jog down the promenade. Her eyes never left his backside until he was just a speck in the distance at the end of our row of beach huts.
‘God, he’s fit! Why have you never told me about him before? Kenny is smoking hot.’
‘Shivani you perve! Kenny is our parish vicar.’
‘The Vicar! Well that’s just my bloody luck, isn’t it? The first man I’ve laid eyes on in months andfancied the pants off and he’s a vicar. The most action I’ve had in the lady garden department for years is when I went to the nurse for a smear last week. I need me a man.’
I giggled. My friend was incorrigible.
‘Anyway, he might be a vicar, but tell me more about him. I might just pretend he isn’t and fantasise about him anyway. He is very hot. What a waste. You’d better crack on at inviting him around while I’m down here. I could lust at him across the dinner table and wear a low-cut top and flash my tits at him and flutter my eyelashes and make him forget all about his vows to the Lord.’
‘Oh my God, shut up!’ We couldn’t stop laughing, so to calm us both down a bit, I told her what I knew about our parish vicar Reverend Kenny Thomas, who had replaced Reverend James Weaver when he retired from his role at Muddleford Parish Church around three months ago. The congregation was so upset to see him retire after over twenty years in that role but soon perked up when they met Kenny.
The new vicar had certainly got the ladies of the local WI group a little flustered when he turned up to introduce himself at our monthly meeting. He was, as Shivani had declared, extremely handsome. Around 6 foot tall, with a body that looked like that of an Olympic athlete, twinkly blue eyes, short grey hair which he wore swept back off his face, and a short, neat grey beard, he’d definitely set the cat amongst the pigeons. The ladies of the group nearly fell over each other offering him cups of tea and biscuits when they found out that he was single, and I’d heard from Jack’s mum Val, that after they’d met him, he had a continuous stream of visitors over at the vicarage with cakes and home-made meals.
‘Oh Shivani, there’s a very long queue to get in, if you want to make advances on the local vicar. Get in line!’
‘A girl can dream can’t she?’ she sighed loudly. ‘Anyhow, talking of bedroom action tell me all about you and Jack and what’s going on in the baby-making department.’
I sighed. ‘Not a fat lot to be honest. Not for the want of trying though. We’re literally at it all the time, but there’s just nothing happening. We’re going to the doctor for a chat next week. Make sure we’re doing all the right things and that everything is ok. Jack keeps telling me to chill out about it, he says I’m becoming a little obsessive, but I am a little worried I have to admit. I want a baby so much Shivani. What if we’re not compatible? What if there’s something wrong with one of us? I just don’t think I could take it. It doesn’t help that within minutes of being married to Reg, Natalie is up the duff. Bitchbag!’
I grinned to show that I didn’t mean my little dig at Natalie who was Jack’s practice manager. She and I had become friends after a dodgy start to our relationship when she had designs on Jack and was trying to warn me off him. Then she met Reg and he literally changed her whole life. I tried so hard to be happy for them and I hope that they couldn’t see any difference, but on the inside, I was so jealous of what they had.
Shivani reached across and took my hand and gave it a little squeeze. ‘I can’t imagine how you must feel about Natalie mate, I really can’t. A chat with the doctor can do no harm surely. At least then, you’ll know all the facts and what you can do next. Maybe Jack is right and you do need to relax a bit more. Sometimes the stress of it all can make things worse. I’m sure one of the girls who works in our sales department said that once she stopped stressing about becoming pregnant, she caught naturally. Just try. It can’t hurt can it.’
‘I know I should, but I’ve never wanted something so much in my life. When I was a teenager, after Dad left and Mum had her drinking problems, I vowed that I would never have children and put them through what I went through. But then after she died, I changed my mind because I would know all the things to do to be a good parent because of everything I’d lacked. Even though my parents were no real example, I know that I would be a good mom and now Jack and I are together, and I know what an amazing father he’d be, I want it more than ever. I want to have that perfect family that I never had.’
‘But you can’t let it take over your life Nell. You need to put you and Jack first.’
‘You’re both right. It’s constantly on my mind right now and it has to stop. Poor old Jack is exhausted. He’s come home early from work twice this week after I’ve texted him and told him that I’d calculated that the time is right. It’s not very romantic or spontaneous and it does feel that we’re doing it for the sake of making a baby, rather than because the mood takes us.’
‘Well don’t be doing that while I’m stopping with you. I don’t want you humping on the kitchen counter while I’m trying to make a sandwich, you big sex pest.’
I grinned at her. She always did have the ability to see the light in any situation.
‘Anyway, I’m just going to close my eyes and enjoy fantasising over the sexy vicar while you make me a coffee.’
‘I’m not your slave you know and stop perving over the vicar. There’s something very wrong about it.’ I smiled at my friend of many years. We’d met at college and had become best friends ever since. I was so glad she had decided to take a week off work and come and spend it with Jack and me here in Muddleford. Knowing how much I would miss her had been one of the reasons why I wasn’t sure about moving, but she assured me that she’d be visiting all the time and so far was definitely keeping up her side of the bargain.
‘Oh I know you’re not, but since you inherited your Aunty Lil’s house and this beach hut, you’ve been a bit of a lady of leisure you know. You need a purpose in life. So go on. Be a love and put the kettle on. I’m gagging for it here and I’m not talking about the vicar.’
‘You say I’ve been a lady of leisure, but I’ve been helping out at the animal rescue centre and doing stuff for the WI too you know. It’s all go really and I don’t really have time to go to work these days even if I had a job. Actually, I have another idea too that I want to talk to you about while you’re here and get your thoughts on.’
‘Oh, that sounds interesting. You’re a proper community girl now, aren’t you? Girlfriend to the local vet, a friend of the church, on the committee of the local WI, and an all-round-carer at the rescue centre. I still can’t believe you are in the WI. I didn’t even know you baked cakes.’
‘I’ve told you before, the WI isn’t all about jam and Jerusalem. There’s so much more to it than that. We have craft events, raise money for the local church, and yes that has become a priority for the group now that they’ve taken Kenny under their wing, raise money for the rescue centre and so much more. It’s about supporting women and making a difference in the community. We had someone from a local domestic violence shelter at the last meeting, telling us how we can help women who are fleeing their homes. You wouldn’t believe the number of women and children fleeing domestic violence situations on a daily basis.
‘It’s all so worthwhile Shivani and I feel for the first time in my life as if I really am part of a community and have a real purpose and have the time and the means to help people. For the first time in my life, I feel like am finally making a difference. ’
‘You don’t have to sell it to me you know babe. I can see how much you are enjoying it. Look at you. You’re positively glowing inside and out. Muddleford life certainly does suit you. I did have my doubts about you moving down here to Dorset full-time, I have to admit, but you’ve settled in fabulously. And the house is looking beautiful too. You’ve worked so hard on it to make it your own.’
Along with the beach hut, number 37 Larkspur Lane had been part of my inheritance from my Aunty Lil, who sadly I hadn’t seen for years due to an argument that she and my Mum had years ago. It was the house that I’d spent many holidays in as a child, but I decided that if Jack and I were going to make it our family home, and move forward, leaving the past behind us, changes had to be made. I wanted it to be perfect for us both before Jack moved in. While it was a beautiful big old house, it needed some modernising and redecorating. We’d worked really hard and had got it looking fabulous and Jack had moved in properly instead of stopping over and doing what he always said felt like the walk of shame to his bedsit next door to get changed etc.
We were very lucky to have this gorgeous house by the sea to start our life together. Some couples spent years saving and would never be able to afford what we had, but that’s what Aunty Lil had said that she wanted to do for me. To give me a head start in life and I would always be grateful to her. My friend Dom, the solicitor who dealt with all the finances for Aunty Lil, had suggested that Jack and I should write a prenup. I didn’t want to, but he and Jack discussed it at length apparently, and decided that it was the right thing to do. Hopefully, Jack and I would be together forever, but you can never predict the future, and they both wanted to make sure that I was protected. Jack wasn’t short of a bob or two, as a partner in the vet’s practice in the village and I knew he would never rip me off but I finally gave in and agreed.
‘Hasn’t that kettle boiled yet?’ Shivani yelling at me across from the front of the beach hut brought me back to the present.
‘You are a slave driver!’ I laughed as I took two mugs out and plonked them on the low table between the two chairs.
I’d just got myself comfy in my chair again.
‘What no biscuits?’ she winked at me.
At this point, a sleepy little bark made us both laugh.
‘Oh Norman, did naughty Aunty Shiv say the ‘b-word?’ I got up again, popped a big bone-shaped dog biscuit in my pocket, fetched a packet of chocolate digestives, and chucked the packet on Shivani’s lap.
Norman, my gorgeous little furry friend, who I’d also inherited from Aunty Lil, came and sat beautifully at my feet, and held up his paw for a treat.
‘Who’s a bootiful boy then? My Normie. Aren’t you?’ Yes, I had turned into one of those people who talked that way to a dog.
‘You’re nicer to that dog than you are to me you know.’ Shivani commented.
‘That’s because he’s a million times better behaved than you are.’
‘Excellent point made Nell.’ We clinked mugs.
I smiled at my friend and we laughed as Norman spun around three times and settled down with his biscuit.
‘This really is the life.’ Shivani sighed. ‘I feel like I’ve already chilled out and left all my worries behind and I only arrived yesterday. I can honestly see why you love it here Nell. I think Muddleford is the most perfect place in the world.’
And I think I need to return to Muddleford as soon as I can!
About Kim Nash
Kim Nash is an author of uplifting, funny, heartwarming, romantic, feel-good fiction and has wanted to write books since she was a little girl.
She lives in Staffordshire with her son Ollie and English Setter rescue dog Roni, is Digital Publicity Director for publisher Bookouture (a division of Hachette UK) and is a book blogger at Kim The Bookworm.
When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog at Cannock Chase, reading, writing and binge-watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Staffordshire and organises local and national reader/author events.
Amazing Grace was her debut novel which came out in April 2019.
Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim’s second novel and was published in September 2019.
Sunshine and Second Chances is Kim’s third novel and was published in June 2020.
Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove is her fourth book and was published in March 2021.
Snowflakes Over Muddleford Cove is her fifth book and is published in December 2022.