Extract from The Valentine’s Card
Laugh, cry and fall in love
The Valentine’s Card is the fabulous first novel from Juliet Ashton. Publishing just in time for Valentine’s Day, it is a heart-warming, heart-breaking tale of love, laughter, and starting over full of vivid characters, real emotions and events both epic and ordinary. If you are looking for something special to read this spring The Valentine’s Card is a MUST. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, you will laugh, you will cry and you will fall in love with this bright new voice in women’s fiction.
Orla adores her actor boyfriend, Sim, who's away filming a sumptuous costume drama. Although the long-distance relationship means that she can eat toast for dinner and watch as much reality TV as she likes, she misses him like crazy.
But Valentine's Day changes everything . . .
Juliet Ashton says this about her writing and the inspiration behind The Valentine’s Card: ‘I wanted to write about real emotions, raw and undeniable and epic (despite their ordinariness). But I needed the story to be funny too, and uplifting. Because that’s the stuff I like to read. Stories with vivid characters and emotions and events, that should make you smile and every now and then ambush you with a tear.’
You can listen to an extract from The Valentine’s Card online now (or read an extract by clicking on the arrows below). To find out more about Juliet Ashton search @thejulietashton on Twitter.
14 February 2012
Thanks to her eerie superpower for knowing the time the moment she awoke, Orla knew she only had a couple of minutes before the alarm clock let rip. She shut her eyes tight again, mutinously clinging to the night. The bedroom was dark, the world outside still moodily silent except for birds gossiping in the big bare tree outside her window.
Today was, what, a Tuesday? Orla groaned, eyes still closed. Tuesday meant P.E. Thirty-one seven-year-olds, hopping from foot to foot on arctic tarmac, red of nose and knee, whining, Can we go back in yet, Miss Cassidy? Orla wound herself tighter in the duvet, deep in denial. From the field at the back of the house a tractor burped and she smiled to herself. Irish road rage. She’d mention that to Sim later, when they Skyped. He’d laugh.
Decorative, easy-going, happy to flirt with the plain girls and fuss over the geriatric ladies, Sim laughed easily but Orla felt proud when she made him giggle. She knew the real thing when she heard it, meatier than the polite, diplomatic laugh he employed in his relentless one-man mission to charm the world. Orla loved Sim’s giggle. She missed it.
After years of scraping by in Dublin’s theatrical circles, her boyfriend’s elusive ‘big break’ had finally materialised when he was cast as the dashing male lead in the BBC’s latest costume drama. Not only did the part fit Sim like a glove – he got to wear satin breeches and ride horses, breaking hearts with just his smile – but it also made him the envy of his peers. Orla had been overjoyed when she heard the news. With the Beeb’s mighty PR muscle behind it, it was a career-making role. She had jumped up and down, clapped and cheered and kissed him over and over – until she’d learned he would be moving to London for five months.
‘Come!’ It had seemed obvious to Sim. He never read the fine print of life.
‘My job,’ Orla had said. ‘My home. My family. And, oh yes, my sanity.’
She refused to be a spare part and, despite his histrionic pleading, she stood by her decision. Even a woman in love has to be pragmatic and Orla couldn’t deny there were advantages to Sim’s sabbatical. She didn’t miss the schlep to Dublin twice or thrice a week, and she certainly didn’t miss Sim’s grumbles about the M50 when he drove out to see her in Tobercree. With Sim in London, Orla could plan her evenings to please herself, watch realityTVwithout standing trial for it, wear the shapeless pyjamas he declared passion killers, and eat toast for dinner. They were measly, though, these advantages, compared to all the things she missed. The rasp of his stubbly cheek. The beautiful crook of his long brown back in her crumpled sheets. The thwack of his hand on her bottom as he passed by. This last she always scowled at but secretly enjoyed, and enjoyed the faux lovers’ tiff that followed even more.
The alarm danced on its bedside tower of books. Orla reached out a hand and hushed it, eyes still obstinately shut. A Canute in floral winceyette, Orla concentrated on holding back the day, stopping it from flooding in and ruining her nest. She wouldn’t shower, a saving of ten minutes or so. Coco Pops instead of a boiled egg scored her another five. That was fifteen embezzled minutes to spend dreaming of her upcoming trip.
Three whole days in London with Sim. She would ride a big red bus, visit Buckingham Palace and have a great deal of sex. It would be good, and it would be about time. Orla had underestimated the effects of separation on their relationship. They hadn’t seen each other since New Year . . . Orla hurriedly shooed away memories of that reunion, turning over onto her other side, only to encounter the cold sheets where, by rights, Sim should be.
The doorbell rang, with the distinctive sing-song of the postman.
The phone rang.
Apparently the world was conspiring to drag Orla out of bed.
A thought, muddy and indistinct, took shape. There was something about today, wasn’t there? She lay still, lashes glued together, trusting her waking brain to sniff it out.
It was Saint Valentine’s Day. That cancelled out PE altogether.
Orla opened her eyes.