Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Blogger - Zanna Mackenzie

Many thanks for hosting me on your blog today!

My novel, published by Astraea Press, is called The Love Programme, here’s more details: Thanks to an embarrassing incident involving a wedding and her ex-boyfriend Marcus, Lucy has to leave her home town in a hurry and needs a place to escape to for a while.

Best friend Fiona is convinced now would be a good time for Lucy to get herself a new life with some potential for romance thrown in. Fate seems to agree when Lucy is given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a TV show and be a contestant on The Love Programme - two weeks of luxury living on a grand Highland estate coupled with, she hopes, fun and romance in wildest Scotland.

When Lucy meets Paul - the young, handsome owner of the Highland estate - she thinks she may have found the love of her life but who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life? When she discovers that Marcus is planning to follow her to Scotland to win her back Lucy has some serious soul searching to do. Does she have a future with Paul, with Marcus or is she yet to find the man of her dreams?

There’s a sneak peak at chapter one below and the book can be downloaded now on Amazon - Amazon UK and Amazon.Com

Chapter One “I’m so glad he’s marrying someone else,” whispered Lucy, watching the groom shuffle nerv-ously from one foot to the other at the top of the aisle.

“It could have been you up there,” replied Fiona. “How many times did Marcus ask you to marry him?” “Three,” Lucy replied, shifting position for the fourth time in as many minutes. Why did church pews have to be so uncomfortable? “The first time when we were five, then again at twenty and finally,” she paused, reliving the moment in her head, “eight months ago.”

“Well,” Fiona said, as the organ struck up, filling the cold but pretty church with overly loud mu-sic, “it looks as though you’re safe from any more proposals, because I think the bride has just arrived.” Amelie Marchant made her way slowly down the aisle, blonde hair in an elegant chignon, de-signer dress looking a million dollars. Beneath her thin veil it was clear she was smiling, no doubt savouring each precious second of being the focus of everyone’s attention, yet keeping her own attention firmly fixed on Marcus, who was awaiting her arrival at the altar.

Fiona nodded in approval. “She looks gorgeous. Her dress is exquisite.” She nudged Lucy. “Doesn’t the little bridesmaid look sweet in deep pink?”

“Yes, she’s Amelie’s niece apparently.” Lucy let a small sigh of contentment slip from her lips as Amelie reached the altar and stood close to Marcus. Finally she, Lucy Stokes, was going to be free of Marcus Brandon. He was marrying someone else, hallelujah! She would, at long last, be able to live her life exactly the way she wanted to.

The whole reason she was here today was to witness the ceremony for herself. To know it was for real.

Okay, so she and Marcus had been childhood sweethearts. They’d played at the whole boy-friend-girlfriend thing on and off, sometimes quite successfully, for well over fifteen years. When she’d reached her twenties Lucy had sensed they didn’t have a future together, and she’d been trying to get Marcus to realise the fact ever since. When she’d broken it off with him for the last time, to say he hadn’t taken kindly to the idea they were no longer an item was a major understatement. Over time she’d grown used to his persistent phone calls, the fact he often just popped round to see her and casually suggested, if they were both at a loose end, they might go for a drink or to the pictures.

Even when she’d plucked up the courage to attempt to date other people, it had been a complete disaster. Friadon was a small town and Marcus seemed to know every detail of where she went, when and with whom. On more than one occasion he’d tried to talk her out of going on a date, and she suspected, but couldn’t prove, he’d persuaded at least one of her dates to stay well away from her, causing her to be stood up, all alone in the heavy rain, outside the local cinema.

Six months after they’d split up, in a completely misguided attempt to woo her back, he’d gotten down on one knee and proposed to her for the third time at the travel agency where she worked. Armed with a huge bouquet of red roses and a bottle of champagne he’d asked her to marry him one last time. It had been in front of several customers too; Lucy had been pink with embarrass-ment. When, riddled with guilt, she’d gently declined his offer yet again, he’d gone off and met Amelie. Eight months later here the two of them were standing at the altar about to become man and wife.

Realising the ceremony was already well under way and she’d missed the first bit through not paying attention, Lucy tried to focus on what was being said, forcing the memories of Marcus from her mind. Yes, they’d enjoyed some fun times over the years, and she had to admit there had been occasions when they’d been completely great together, but it was all in the past now. His future lay with Amelie.

Clearing his throat the vicar glanced nervously towards the congregation and asked, “Does any-one here object to the marriage of Amelie Marchant and Marcus Brandon? If so, speak now or forever hold...”

“I object.” The words were barely audible but Lucy heard them and fear shivered up her spine. The vicar, looking as though his worse fears were being realised, glanced around anxiously, un-sure what to do or say next.

“I object!”

This time the voice was louder. The vicar grew red-faced and flustered.

“I’m sorry, sir, did you say you object?”

The bridegroom nodded solemnly. “Yes, I’m afraid I did.”

Those in the first few rows of the church heard the faintest of whimpers escape from beneath the bride’s veil and her knees appeared to buckle just a little.

Fixing a stern gaze upon the unwilling groom the vicar muttered, “Why exactly do you object, Mr. Brandon?” Marcus addressed the packed congregation, his eyes scanning the rows, seeming to search for someone. Then in a loud, clear voice he announced, “I object because I’m still in love with an-other woman!” Raising his right hand he pointed to an area, three pews back on the right, just in front of a stone pillar. “Lucy, my love, will you ever take me back?”

There was collective gasp from the congregation; the bride fainted on the spot, sinking to the floor to be quickly swallowed up in a cloud of ivory silk and lace. Lucy, covered in embarrass-ment from head to foot, used her generously proportioned purple feather hat to try to hide her face, clasped her matching purple purse to her chest and ran from the church as fast as her kitten heels would carry her. (C) Zanna Mackenzie 2013

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