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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Reckoning by Maggie Tideswell πŸ’• Book Tour and $15 Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (Paranormal Romance)



Desperately in love with one man, yet she planned to marry another.

Desperately in love with one man, yet she planned to marry another.
Why?

Nicole - Joshua replaced her when he married a stranger. Over her dead body would he get away with her inheritance as well. He was going to have to marry her before the month was out, as Daddy stipulated in his last Will & Testament - his marriage to Holly wasn't real anyway.

Ned - He never tried to hide his feeling for Nicole, but this was ridiculous. But he was a patient man - he'd hang around to see how her plans panned out, and pick up the pieces when she spectacularly failed. She was carrying his child, after all.

Joshua - Nicole's ship had sailed - there was no way he's put Holly, his brand new wife of barely a week aside to marry Nicole. Her father knew what he was doing. No one seemed to understand Nicole's priorities. She had to reclaim what should have been hers before she could be with Ned. He expected her to be independently rich. If only the ghost of her mother would give her peace to concentrate on planning the wedding of the year for her and Joshua. She only had a month.

Daddy never said anything about staying married to Joshua.



Prologue


Black umbrellas followed the three coffins up the slippery slope. The pallbearers stumbled under their burden, the snaking line of mourners squelching after them, the footing uncertain. The torrential downpour was unrelenting, unforgiving even, the thunder drowning out the hymn. 

In the clearing, the freshly dug graves slowly filled with water. 

The ground, trampled into a quagmire, sucked at her feet. Her unbent head was covered by a black veil, but her eyes were dry. Standing alone, slightly apart from the others, she protected her broken wrist from the damp against her chest. Severe in black—black boots, black jeans, black silk shirt—the only color about her was the auburn of her hair. 

From the surrounding forest, misty fingers reached for the woman. She didn’t know she was being singled out.

Dust you are and to dust you shall return.

May God grant you eternal rest.

A sudden gust of wind pushed the veil into her lip gloss, rustling soggy, dead leaves into the graves, and piled them against her ankles. 

When the caskets started their descent into the black maws, lightning struck the tallest tree in the copse, thunder following instantly. A black smudge hovered over the rain-spattered lid of the coffin in the middle, but no one saw. 

Wind that tore at umbrellas and raincoats didn’t disperse the smudge, and no one noticed when it swathed the woman, not even the woman herself.

One more must die.

Then I, too, can rest in peace.

Revenge was sweet, Tragic Lady. 

Ironic it was to be interred between the two who had wronged you. Eternal slumber should now be easy. 

But it wasn’t.

Dead. Gone. But not forgotten.

Chapter 1


Sunday, October 13th 


Dark moon in Libre

Relationships in the balance



To my daughter and only child, Nicole Emily Jones, I bequeath the love and goodwill of her husband, Joshua Jordan. If not yet married at the time of this reading, I allow them one month in which to be joined in holy matrimony. I charge Joshua with the tender care and happiness of my daughter, and any children she might bear him. No further arrangement is therefore necessary for Nicole Emily Jones under this testament. 

“To Joshua Jordan, I entrust all my property, including the estate of Willowgrove with all it encompasses—the vineyards, winery and house—as well as the balance in my banking accounts, and all insurance policies under which he is named beneficiary. Provision has been made for the payment of the Willowgrove staff in the event of my death.

“To my faithful companion of many years, Pearl May, I bequeath the trust fund set up in her name. She is to be allowed to remain at Willowgrove for the remainder of her natural life. On her death, the balance of the fund is to revert to Joshua Jordan.”

When Philip finished reading, the sound of rustling papers was all that could be heard over the drumming of the rain on the roof. After a short pause, he said, “Joshua, as I have the death certificate for Pearl May, the trust fund will pass directly to you.”

Joshua noticed how Philip avoided looking at Nicole. 

She sat ramrod straight, her eyes enormous in her pale face. In the silence, her composure crumpled. “Daddy left everything to you,” she whispered. Her eyes, red-rimmed and stiff in her head, fixed on Joshua’s face. “He disinherited me.” 

Clutching her broken wrist to her chest, her breath came in sharp, short puffs over dry lips. If possible, she was even paler by the time she pushed to her feet and planted herself in front of him. 

“What did you do, Joshua? What did you say to Daddy? Did you tell him you needed help getting me into church?” When the lawyer cleared his throat, her head swiveled and she glared at him for a loaded heartbeat. “When did Daddy make this will?”

Philip consulted the papers before him. “A month ago, Miss Jones.”

“He told me recently he felt the need to settle his affairs,” Joshua said stiffly. 

Nicole teetered where she stood. She looked like the teenager he remembered so well, ready to launch into a tantrum. Getting to his feet, he gripped her shoulders, but she twisted away. 

She shook from head to toe. 

“Nicole, you have to calm down. Believe me, this is as much a surprise to me as it is to you. I would never have tried to sway Magnus where your inheritance is concerned. Sit down before you fall over. I’m going to call Graham to give you something for the shock.” 

He was on his way to the door when Nicole’s breathy laugh stopped him. “Was that concern, Joshua? Please stop, because you nearly sounded sincere. Just like pretending to love me for all the years we were engaged—I was completely fooled. And you can stop the fake surprise, too. You got exactly what you wanted. As you’re already married, Daddy lost,” she ended, as if she were talking to herself. 

Her chest rose and fell rapidly. Crossing her arms in her waist, favoring the one in the cast, she looked him straight in the eye. “Well done, Joshua, well played, but spare me any more pretenses.”

Andrea Jordan, sitting in a chair against the wall watching the scene with both hands on top of her cane, cleared her throat. “Nicole, you’re all over the place. Bear in mind, your father didn’t expect to die so soon. He expected to live many more years, he expected to see you and Joshua happily married, he expected to see your children grow. Only he will know why he did what he did, and we can only assume he thought it best to leave your inheritance to Joshua. By doing that, your father made sure you were well taken care of after he was gone.”

“By making me beholden to my husband?” Nicole snapped, still glaring at Joshua. “How am I supposed to survive with both Daddy and Mother gone, and Joshua married to someone else?”

Joshua couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. “Nicole, your father knew you well. He did what he thought best for the continuance of Willowgrove. He told me once he was worried you’d sell everything the moment you got the chance. It had been his dream for many years to merge Willowgrove with Fairley. I can’t answer for his reasoning, but the safety of Willowgrove had clearly been uppermost in his mind.”

Nicole sank into the chair behind her and Joshua sat next to her, taking her hand. “Magnus knew you were responsible for our very long engagement, just as he knew you weren’t ready for your inheritance. Maybe this was his way of protecting it for you until such time as you were ready.”

Her enormous eyes watched Joshua’s mouth as he spoke. Two bright spots of color appeared on her cheeks. 

“Magnus knew I’d never alienate Willowgrove.” It would take a while for the fact he was now the legal owner of the neighboring winery to sink in. Pleasure clashed violently in his chest with pity for Nicole.

“I didn’t hear any plans or wishes for a future in which Willowgrove reverted back to me—once I am ready for my role. Or did I miss that part?”

“No, there was nothing like that, only the hope we’d be married soon.” 

Nicole slumped over the armrest and covered her face with her hands. A loud roll of thunder nearly drowned her already muffled wail. “I’m a penniless orphan. Why didn’t Daddy change his testament after you came home with a wife? He had a whole week to do it. He should have known it wouldn’t provide for me at all in these circumstances. Instead, all he did was to make you an even wealthier man than you were ten minutes ago. Nothing in the testament benefits me.” 

Try as he might, Joshua couldn’t stop the corners of his mouth from lifting. He quickly got up to light a cigarette in front of the window so that Nicole wouldn’t see the threatening smile.

The clearing of her throat turned him back to her. Her head was tilted to the side, a speculative glint in her eyes. “Unless Daddy knew something about your marriage, or your wife, no one else did?”

That wiped the pleasure off his face. “Yes, he was planning Holly’s murder, Nicole. Only, things went wrong and instead of my wife dying at his hand he died himself. And I’m still married and out of your reach.” 

He had no reason to doubt the sincerity of her rising panic. 

Twisting her fingers awkwardly together in her lap, she whispered, “What am I supposed to do now? How must I live? Where shall I go?” She straightened and looked up at the lawyer. “Is my apartment in Cape Town still mine, or is it part of Daddy’s estate?” She looked at Joshua. “If it is, you own it now and I’m out on the street.”

He’d forgotten her very upmarket apartment in Sea Point. For his own peace of mind, he didn’t want Nicole homeless, because, as he knew her, she’d make her home here at Fairley. In all fairness to Holly, he couldn’t have his ex-fiancΓ©e under the same roof as his new bride. The weather rumbled over the drumming of the rain on the roof when Joshua turned to the lawyer for his verdict. 

“Yes, the apartment and the Mercedes Benz A200 were part of the Jones estate, and now belongs to you, Joshua,” Philip confirmed gravely.

“Please, have the necessary papers drawn up for the immediate transfer of the apartment, the car, and Pearl’s trust fund into Nicole’s name.” That was the least he could do to keep the woman he’d hoped for four years to marry off his back. 

Nicole got to her feet and wiped her face, her eyes strangely dry. 

He’d expected tantrum tears at least, or tears of self-pity, but although pale, she was too composed for Nicole as he knew her. 

Even her voice was steady when she said, “Both the car and the apartment were gifts from Mother and Daddy. He should have registered them in my name at the time. But I don’t want your money, Joshua. You can’t buy me off.”

“I didn’t mean it as a payoff. You’ll need cash for your daily living—food, bills, that sort of thing—until you find a steady source of income.”

“Until I find a job, you mean,” she sneered, then dropped her chin. “I’ve never worked for money in my life. What can I do to earn a living?” A shudder ran through her. “I thought Daddy loved me. How wrong I was.”

Joshua’s mother pushed out of her chair and, leaning heavily on her cane, put her hand on Nicole’s shoulder. “Nicole, you mustn’t think that. Magnus loved you very, very much, but he also knew you as only a father can know his only child. Earning an honest living won’t do you any harm.” She sounded as tired as she looked. “I’m going to find a cup of tea and then I’ll be in my room. Call me when lunch is ready.”

Joshua took her elbow. “Are you feeling all right, Mother? Do you want Graham to give you something?” 

They had been her friends, Magnus and Pearl, even Moragh, and to bury the three of them on the same day must have been hard, especially under the shadow of mystery surrounding their deaths.

“No, I’m just tired. I wish your father were here today.”

When the door closed behind Andrea, Joshua asked, “Will you be staying for lunch, Philip?”

The lawyer glanced up from shuffling his papers into his briefcase. “No, I’d better be off. Thanks, anyway.”

Alone in the study, Nicole and Joshua stared at each other until he tucked her hand into his elbow, turning her to the door. “You might not understand your father’s reasoning now, Nicole, but I’m sure one day it will make perfect sense. I’ll take very good care of his dream, of that you can be assured.”

She jerked her hand away. “Which dream would that be?” 

“The same dream my father had, to merge Willowgrove with Fairley into one large, productive wine estate. The idea of accomplishing it with our marriage came later. Now Willowgrove will prosper like never before.”

“Daddy clearly trusted you more than he did me.” Canting her head to the side, she chewed the corner of her mouth.

Sorry as he was for her, Joshua didn’t trust the gleam in her eyes. “He did, where Willowgrove was concerned.”

Nicole drew herself up to her full height, and poked her finger into his chest. “Before you congratulate yourself too much on your good fortune, you’d better follow Daddy’s instructions.”

Joshua’s heart dropped into his shoes. This was what he had been afraid of, that Nicole wasn’t going to accept her father’s last will and testament quietly, without causing another upheaval. 

“And that is?” But he knew before she answered what form her troublemaking was going to take.

“You shall marry me—within the month!” 



  
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"Excellent read! Maggie Tideswell's book is impossible to put down. This writer is skilled in evoking deep emotions in the readerA pleasure to read." - Amazon Reviewer

A marriage of convenience - no strings attached - suited both Holly and Joshua just fine; a virgin marriage, so that they could both walk away… But they made a crucial mistake: they didn't take chemistry into account.

Holly 
Seriously? They actually advertised for a husband for her without telling her? She was going to have to kill them, stone dead.

But having a ‘husband’ behind her would give her an edge she didn’t have now. Donald, her ex, and his wife would have to revise their strategy of keeping her children away from her. That was an advantage worth taking a risk for. But what kind of man was likely to respond to a tiny ad in the newspaper no one reads anymore?

Joshua 
Nicole had to marry him now or let him go. He was done waiting, but he did not know what else he could do to persuade her to his way of thinking. Until he saw the little ad in the paper. A plan fell into his head as if he'd snapped his fingers. This woman who audaciously advertised herself as available would do perfectly. Married to another woman would make him irresistibly attractive to Nicole – as was the case with everything she wanted and couldn’t have.

From the moment Holly accepted Joshua’s offer of marriage, strange things started happening to her, and the strangeness followed her to her new (temporary) home. She was going to have to unravel a decades-old mystery before anything else.

A ghost, a wronged fiancΓ©e, and trouble with everyone around them. Will Holly and Joshua get what they’ve set out to achieve?

  
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Maggie Tideswell, internationally acclaimed bestselling South African author, has a passion for romance. All over the world people are falling in love, making it love, not money, that makes the world go round. Ghosts just can't seem to leave her alone and she combines things that can't be explained, sweaty bodies and rumpled beds in a way that will make your toes curl and your hair stand on end.
Maggie just can't do without perfume, coffee and the internet. She is nearly as passionate about food as she is about creating alpha heroes every woman will fall in love with, just as she does, every time.
The strangest thing is that cats have never played any kind of role in her stories, as she is owned by three of them.
That might change soon.


    

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"PHENOMINAL!! This book is a well written, well plotted and unique in its story." - Amazon Review Melanie Adkins (Kissablysweet1)

How do you escape a jealous ghost?

Lawrence can't find peace in death. He hangs around the house he lived in with his wife, trapping Rachel in the past without her even realizing it. Until her friend Jane arranges an unusual 30th birthday gift for her - a night with a professional seducer.

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8 comments :

  1. I enjoyed reading the excerpt and I can't wait to read this exciting story! Thanks for sharing it with me and have a magical holiday season!

    ReplyDelete
  2. the cover definitely looks like trouble!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What an interesting book! Great excerpt. I'd love to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the great post. I enjoyed the excerpt.

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