Today I have been gifted an extract from the first chapter of Release for you to read, be inspired by, be perhaps pulled in by. Find out more about the author, the blurb and of course a sneaky peak of part of the book. I thank Reading Between The Lines and for gifting me the extract and inviting
About the Author
Karen Moore is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.
She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.
Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales. Release is the sequel, although it is written as a standalone novel for people who may not have read Torn.
Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing. She has lived in France and Italy, and is now based in Cheshire, England. Her cat, Lexi, often appears in her social media feeds.
When Hanna’s estranged mafioso husband, Luciano, is released early from a Sicilian prison, she fears he will come after her and her young daughter, Eva.
The revelation leaves her with a dilemma. Invited to Sicily to attend her best friend’s wedding, can she really take the risk?
But even staying at home in North Wales may not be safe. Something strange is going on at her old cottage in the hills. As the lines between Sicily and North Wales blur, Hanna uncovers a criminal operation that leads her to fear for Eva’s life all over again.
Will Hanna ever be able to release herself from Luciano’s grip? Or will her discovery lead her into even deeper danger?
Shielding her eyes against the dazzling sunlight, Hanna shivered as she stepped out into the afternoon heat. Maybe it was the sharp contrast in temperature after the coolness of the cottage. Or was there another reason? Something was bothering her, an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach she’d had all day. It was as if the nightmares of the past were lurking in the shadows, threatening to return.
Trying to ignore it, she carried the tray of marinated chicken pieces over to the barbecue where Rhys was busy poking the glowing coals. His tanned face crinkled into a smile.
“Nearly ready now. Only a few more minutes. I’m ravenous. Don’t know about you?” Rhys almost had to shout to make himself heard above Eva’s shrieks as she tore around the garden after Bryn, his new squeaky doggy toy clamped between his jaws.
Hanna forced a smile. “Me, too.”
“How about an aperitif while we wait?”
She nodded and flopped onto a garden lounger. “That’d be great, just what I need.”
Rhys wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead with the back of his arm. “Fine. Won’t be a
minute…” he said, already making for the back door into the kitchen.
Hanna sat back with a sigh. Cosmo, their adopted cat, stretched out lazily on the patio, basking
in the sun, purring contentedly. The heady scent of sweet honeysuckle wafted through the air. The garden was a blaze of colour: swathes of pink and purple mallow, dainty red fuchsias, spectacular blue hydrangeas, giant yellow daisies, and delicate peach roses. Amazing how they manage to bloom with so little attention, she thought. There was even a fig tree, although she doubted it would bear fruit in the Welsh climate. The fine weather wouldn’t last long.
The warm sun made her drowsy and she was almost nodding off when she heard the chink of ice against glass. Rhys set two tall drinks down on the table, together with a bowl of olives. He collapsed onto the lounger next to her.
“I thought you might like one of these,” he said, handing her a glass filled with a sparkling dark-coloured liquid, a twist of blood orange clinging to its rim.
She took a sip, savouring the familiar bittersweet orange flavour that immediately conjured up memories of Sicily. Memories more bitter than sweet. A shudder ran through her as if a dark cloud had passed over the sun. Shrugging it off, she said, “Orange vermouth, my favourite! Wherever did you find it?”
Rhys grinned as he reached for his drink, studying her over the top of his glass. “I saw it the other day in a farm shop and remembered you telling me how much you used to like it.”
“It’s wonderful, really refreshing. The perfect summer drink,” said Hanna, reaching for an olive.
Rhys downed half his drink in one gulp. “Mmm, not bad. I might have to have another one.” Hanna laughed. “You’re supposed to sip it slowly and relish its tangy aroma.”
“You sound like an advert! No wonder you’re in marketing!”
“You’d better get a move on with that chicken. Eva’ll be famished after all that running
“OK, boss, anything you say.” Rhys finished his drink, returned to the barbecue, and started to
load the chicken onto the rack.
Hanna took another sip and scanned the garden again. Eva was still charging around after Bryn in a game of hide-and-seek that he seemed to be winning. Peals of laughter and high- pitched squeals from the squeaky toy floated on the air. Just as well we’ve no immediate neighbours to disturb, she thought. Rhys busied himself at the barbecue, deftly wielding a pair of tongs, humming softly to himself.
So much had happened since Sicily and her daughter’s kidnapping two years earlier. By some miracle Eva had emerged remarkably unscathed, and as her fifth birthday approached, she was growing into a chirpy and inquisitive little girl. She seemed happy in their new home, an old stone cottage in the little village of Abergarron, slightly set back from the North Wales coast, and had settled in well at the school she had been attending for the past few months.
But for Hanna it hadn’t been so easy, and she still bore the scars of her Sicilian husband’s betrayal and deceit. What hurt the most was the apparent ease with which he had shunned both his wife and daughter in favour of the noxious family business. But at least that was all behind her now, and Luciano was paying the price: a fourteen-year jail sentence in Palermo’s Pagliarelli maximum-security prison.
Trying to dismiss her feeling of foreboding, Hanna reminded herself she had much to be thankful for. Eva no longer asked about Luciano and her Sicilian grandparents, and had accepted Rhys without too many questions. Hanna’s own relationship with Rhys was warm and loving, a bond that had developed naturally without any great effort on either part.