Thea Thomas needs to get away from her old life… and the interfering ex who won’t leave her alone. When she lands a job heading up the restoration of Mill Grange, a stunning Victorian manor, it feels like the perfect opportunity to start afresh.
What Thea didn’t anticipate was how hostile the volunteer team, led by the formidable Mable Hastings, would be about accepting new leadership. And with the deadline looming before the grand opening, Thea is in desperate need of more volunteers.
A broadcast appeal on the local news attracts the interest of arrogant but undeniably attractive celebrity historian Shaun Cowlson, who wants to make a TV programme about the restoration. It’s hard enough adding one more big personality to the mix – but then her ex turns up as one of the volunteers! What seemed like a dream come true is fast becoming a total disaster! Can Thea find a way to save the manor?
The kitchen clock struck a quarter to seven. The meeting wasn’t due to start for another half an hour. At least four of them would be early. Not one of them would be late.
None of the seven volunteers working to restore Mill Grange would want to miss what had been building up as a ‘Thea versus us’ showdown for the past fortnight.
She wasn’t sure how it had happened. In her naïvety, Thea had assumed the volunteers would be glad to have someone take the worry of time and expenses from their shoulders. Surely the job was easier for them, unpaid as they were, if they could get on with the tasks she saw as the most urgent. The main thing was to have the house ready to open in time for the approaching summer holiday period.
In reality, every suggestion or instruction she’d made had been listened to politely, before the volunteer in question reported to Mabel, as they’d always done. Sometimes the tasks Mabel had in mind coincided with Thea’s. Often they didn’t, and the allotted job would be substituted for another.
Thea had been polite and considerate, constantly making allowances for the fact that she was the newcomer. But no amount of explaining and cajoling made any difference. After fourteen exhausting days of making a concerted attempt to be accepted as manager, she had become tired of fighting against the way things had been done prior to her arrival.
Annoyed at her failure to manage the group, and resisting the urge to grab the emergency bottle of wine she’d hidden in the fridge, Thea put on the kettle. If she was going to get through this with her soul intact, it was going to take more than the heavily sugared lemon cake Tina had made her. It was going to take coffee. Strong coffee.
Heaping rather too many beans into the grinder, Thea wondered how her workforce would react if they discovered she’d been living in the attic since her arrival.
It hadn’t been her intention to use what had once been a maid’s bedroom as anything other than a temporary holding point for the few belongings she hadn’t put into storage and a place to sleep for two or three nights. Her new working routine however, had become so busy so fast, that Thea hadn’t got round to searching for anywhere to live. She needed to be on site during every hour of daylight if there was any hope of opening on the day the trustees had demanded. Anyway, all the available, affordable rental accommodation was over twenty miles away, along remote moorland roads. Finding a home simply hadn’t happened. The guilt of living in secret, rent-free, was offset by the knowledge that the only time Thea stopped working was when she slept.
The sound of boots crossing the stone chipped courtyard outside the kitchen door tied her stomach into a dozen knots.
‘Get a grip, woman. You co-ran an entire museum in Bath, for goodness’ sake. You managed a team so big that you never did find the time to meet them all. Surely you can sort out eight people and get them all to play nicely!’
Jenny Kane is the bestselling author of several romantic fiction series. Her first novel, Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press), was a Kindle bestseller. The final novel in this series, Another Glass of Champagne, was released in June 2016. Jenny Kane’s Cornish romance, A Cornish Escape, hit No.1 in the Amazon Romance, Contemporary Fiction, and Women’s Fiction charts, and was followed by a sequel, Abi’s Neighbour, Jenny’s seventh novel.
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