Cavalley’s is renowned for style, glamour and sophistication, providing the ultimate fashion indulgences for film stars and fashionistas. Violet Cavalley has poured her heart and soul into building her multimillion pound business and raising her three children. But Violet is not the woman she appears to be. And her adored children conceal secrets of their own. Behind the Cavalley family’s gilded façade lies a streak of darkness. Darkness that now threatens to destroy them all…The book comes out in paperback in the 3rd February and I have been kindly invited to take part in the trail of extracts that will be posted in four different blogs for four consecutive days, ending in a fabulous competition on publishing day -
You can read all about that on the author's website and to whet you appetite, you can find an exclusive excerpt from the book below!
As they sat, their starters in front of them, Violet remained standing. Before each guest was a bowl of champagne risotto, an oyster placed on one side. Around the courtyard, guests gasped as they realised that inside each shell was a single, perfect pearl. The tables buzzed with laughter and conversation. Violet closed her eyes for a second and allowed herself to tune into snippets of chatter, letting her attention roam around the room. It made her skin tingle to listen.
She opened her eyes, and cleared her throat. It was time.
‘Excuse me…’ she called out. The courtyard fell quiet.
‘I’ll be brief. I don’t want this wonderful food to go cold. I just want to thank you all for coming. I still can’t believe I’m sixty years old. That’s the age other people are, isn’t it? I’m still seventeen, surely.’
‘I am very blessed,’ she continued, more serious now. ‘To have so many of my family and friends here with me to celebrate. My children…’
She gestured to the top table. Flip, her eldest son, and his fiancée Tillie, to one side of her. Blue, Adam. Frangipani, the youngest.
‘My partner, Patrick…’
She looked down to her left. Patrick winked a bright blue eye at her. She hated the word ‘partner’, but to call him her boyfriend at sixty felt absurd.
‘Kalisto, who has been like a brother to me – more than a brother…’
Kalisto stood and bowed, making a flourish with his long tail coat. There was a round of applause. Violet laughed.
‘Hey. Stop stealing the limelight!’ she teased.
But no one could really steal the show from her, and she knew it. Then she paused. She had suddenly become aware that Pietro - the villa’s housekeeper and caretaker, who had been here since before she owned the place, who was part of it -had appeared at her side and was urgently gesturing to her.
‘Signora Violetta, Ms Cavalley.’
The elderly man looked utterly panicked - floored in a way that Violet had never seen before. His walnut brown skin had turned pale, and he gazed at Violet with eyes that were full of concern.
She carried on. Whatever it was, it would have to wait.
‘And, just as important, are the ones who are not here. Scarlet. Sebastian. And others. Please, raise your glasses, and drink with me, to absent – no, not to absent friends. To lost loves, wherever they may be.’
The room stood as one, and did as she asked.
‘To lost loves.’
‘Thank you. Now – eat, drink, enjoy! Life is short.’
Then she turned to Pietro, touched his hand. ‘Pietro? What on earth’s the matter?’
‘Someone’s here,’ he said, urgently.
‘All right. Who? Show them to the library and I’ll see them after dinner.’
‘He says he won’t wait. He says… he says he is Signora Cavalley’s brother.’ He addressed the last few words to Flip, who had stood and gone to his mother’s side. It was as though the loyal caretaker could somehow not bear to speak directly to Violet.
Flip shook his head in bemusement. ‘My mother doesn’t have a brother, you know that.
Pietro steeled himself, and did something he could never have imagined doing. He interrupted.
‘I’m sorry, Signor. But he says...’
‘Oh God.’ Violet’s voice was low.
Flip looked at Violet, sensing her trembling next to him. ‘Mama?’
Her hand went to her mouth.
Pietro’s eyes dropped to the ground. ‘I told him this,’ he went on. ‘I said to him, “Signora Cavalley has no brother, no sister. You must leave,” I told him. But he said… ‘
And before he spoke, Violet knew the words that were going to come from his mouth. The words that she had dreaded hearing for so long.
‘He says Signora Cavalley does not have a brother. But he says Signora Cavalley is not… is not Signora Cavalley.’
Violet stared. The courtyard had fallen silent. Everything had slowed down. She felt as though she were floating; her arms and legs were numb.
‘Hello, Violet,’ a voice said, from over Pietro’s shoulder. ‘That’s what you’re calling yourself now, isn’t it?’
And as she collapsed, she looked beyond Pietro, into the shadows of the courtyard, and into the eyes of her brother.
I don't know about you, but I really enjoyed this snippet and it's made me desperate to read the book - luckily, my copy arrived today, bang on time! What about you - have you read it yet or would you like to? :)
And now, for the competition:
Jessica Ruston’s fabulous new novel is published today – TO TOUCH THE STARS tells the story of the glamorous Cavalley family, their glittering fashion empire, and the secrets that threaten to destroy them all…
To celebrate, Jessica’s publishers are giving away five signed copies, with one lucky winner getting a bottle of bubbly to enjoy with the book! For your chance to win answer this simple question:What was the title of Jessica Ruston’s first novel?
Email answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet answers to @publicitybooks