Escape to Willow Cottage by Bella Osbourne (Extract)

Summary from Goodreads

The Escape to Willow Cottage was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

A cosy and heartwarming seasonal romance, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley.

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Escape to Willow Cottage was originally digitally published as a four-part serial under the title Willow Cottage. This is the complete story.

Paperback, 464 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2017 by Avon

Chapter 8 p.72-74

When the call was over Beth started to think about the treehouse. It sounded like a lovely place, but then so had Willow Cottage but now it was a disaster she was stuck with. Perhaps she could knock down bloody Willow Cottage and build a treehouse in the willow. She was pretty sure it would cost less and it would definitely be easier than sorting out the mess she currently had to deal with.

Beth was drowning her sorrows in a particularly large glass of Chardonnay as she sat in the B&B kitchen mulling over the full structural survey report. It didn’t make for an entertaining read. She felt sorry for herself. She knew it was a bit pathetic but she couldn’t help it. It was like she’d been dropped into someone else’s life and it was alien. Everything here was almost the opposite of what she was used to: before she had a clean, sleek and modern home and now she had a tumbledown filthy wreck. She used to have a good job, now she was playing at being a property renovator – and doing it very badly, she thought, as she ran a thumb over her reddened palms that were sore from the splinters. And love it or hate it she was used to the noise, bustle and vibrancy of London and now she was in a village that was so sleepy and inactive if it were a person it would be lying on a slab with a tag on its toe. She was the proverbial fish out of water or in her case she was the middle-class mum out of Waitrose.

She was also trying very hard not to think about Nick. It was bugging her that he’d been in touch with Carly but it niggled her more that Carly had obviously listened to him. Nick was charming and that was a wonderfully effective mask to hide behind.

This was all Nick’s fault. If he had only been all the things he had promised to be, and not the hateful manipulator with a swift backhand, then right now she and her little boy could be sitting in the apartment she loved, and had worked so hard for, with the man of her dreams. Because, before Nick had shown his true colours, that was exactly what he had been. At first when Nick had done things for her she was flattered, pleased that someone was thinking of her and it had made her feel special. The few thoughtful gestures had become more and more frequent until virtually everything outside of her work was sorted out for her by him, making her feel cosseted. It was a while before she noticed that her independence was evaporating, almost unnoticed, like a puddle in the sun. Perhaps on some level she was missing Nick too. She started to feel anxious as the memories forced their way into her conscious mind and she washed them away with a large slug of wine. There was no point going over the past. Beth realized she was grinding her teeth and stopped herself; it was a nervous thing she seemed to have developed, thanks to Nick, and she needed to break the habit.

She looked around the B&B kitchen – it was painfully twee. Frilly floral curtains hung at the small window and were tied back with ribbons, the units were all pine which overpowered the small room, on top of the wall cabinets was a collection of pottery jugs in various gaudy colours, most of which clashed spectacularly with the migraine-inducing magenta walls. Beth knew she was being uncharitable but she was used to clean lines, minimalism and good design, none of which was evident here.

She looked round the kitchen again. It was all superficial. The kitchen wasn’t a bad size; but was overcrowded by cupboards and overwhelmed by colour and chintz. She could easily change it given the chance, it was only one room. That was it. She could easily change one room. Willow Cottage was the same; she needed to look at it as a series of single rooms, one thing at a time, rather than one massive insurmountable disaster. The cottage might have a lot that needed changing but, with the exception of the roof, there didn’t appear to be anything structurally wrong. Yes, it needed repointing – thanks to Jack she now knew what that meant – it needed rewiring and a damp course but that was all doable. She took another swig of wine. That was the last time she was going to feel sorry for herself; from now on, she was going to change things bit by bit and she was going to start with moving out of the B&B.

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