Today I’m excited to participate in a blog tour for author Clare Chase in celebration of her novel A Stranger’s House being published in paperback last week. In keeping with the fact that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the author has graciously written a Valentine’s Day themed guest post exclusively for my readers!! Scroll on to learn about her novel and read Clare’s fabulous post.
A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase
Publisher: Choc Lit
What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?
When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.
But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…
But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?
Guest Post written by Clare Chase
Valentine’s Day in Cambridge, UK
Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Arielle. It’s great to be here.
Although my books all have a romantic thread running through them, they’re mystery fiction and so I often blog about the crime element. Given that, it makes a lovely change to be asked to write a post about Valentine’s Day!
I should say that I’m at the stage where I know who my valentine’s cards and presents come from – despite the fact that my husband and I still sign our messages with a question mark for tradition’s sake. Apparently this habit of sending cards anonymously took off when the price of postage went down with the introduction of the stamp in 1840. Not having to hand deliver cards made it easier for shy, would-be lovers who wanted to hide their identity.
Although there’s certainly something fun about sending and receiving anonymous cards (and I’m not going to turn my nose up at champagne and chocolates either!), I sometimes feel it’s the more unplanned and less deliberately romantic situations that make for the most memorable occasions – especially in a relationship that’s just starting out. In my book A Stranger’s House, a lot of the sexual tension develops over cooking: two people who don’t know each other well, collaborating on making a sumptuous meal, accidentally brushing against each other and catching each other’s eyes. The wine flows freely, and my lead characters start to find out more about each other. The spark’s there, and it builds.
A Stranger’s House is set in the UK, in the ancient university city of Cambridge and, on Valentine’s Day, there are certain treats you can enjoy that are specific to this location. The river Cam, that flows through the city is scenic, weaving its way between college buildings that date back hundreds of years. Hiring a punt is the accepted way of making the journey. For anyone who hasn’t come across this weird method of transport before, a punt is a long, flat boat that’s square at both ends, and the punter stands on a board at the back, ready to propel the craft with a long pole. What could be more romantic? You can take a bottle of wine and a picnic, if it’s warm enough, or a hip flask of brandy if not!
But there are a few things to be wary of. The poles are either aluminium or the more traditional (and heavy) wood. If you get a wooden pole, making your way along the river and back again by shoving it against the river bed is quite hard work! What’s more, the base of the river is pretty muddy in places. It’s not uncommon to shove your pole down and find you can’t drag it up again. Meanwhile the board I mentioned that the punter stands on is outside the body of the boat, and it’s slippery if wet! And guess what? Each time you drag your pole out of the river, the board gets covered in water. (Or at least, it does when I do it. I’ve always been hopeless at punting.) If your pole does get stuck, the all-important thing is to let go. It’s hard to look like a romantic idol if your punt moves out from under you and you’re stuck clinging to your pole, sliding inexorably down towards the river! Thankfully, the punt hire people provide you with a (rather weedy) paddle, so if needs be you can eventually rescue your pole. More often than not, some kind person who’s still fully in control of their craft will nip over and get it for you. Other people seem to make the whole process look effortless…
The punt companies know all about the pitfalls, and that’s why – for a hundred pounds or so – you can book a Valentine’s punt tour instead. With these you get to sit back and relax whilst a chauffeur takes strain – at the same time as giving you a running commentary about the colleges you pass on your journey. There are also blankets, hot water bottles and a red rose for your guest. And if you go after dark you even get Chinese lanterns. I can sort of see the appeal. It’s less private, but when it comes down to it, it’s hard to have a cuddle when one of you is in charge of an unwieldy river craft and the other’s clenching their teeth and wondering how hard it would be to swim in their clothes. That said, when I went punting with my husband (then fiancé) on an unseasonably warm February 14th, he did the punting, and I seem to remember it was a solidly good experience.
Whatever you do to celebrate your Valentine’s Day, I do hope you have a wonderful time!
Enter to Win!
Enter for the chance to win an eBook or paperback copy of A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase. To enter simply email email@example.com with your details and the subject heading Living Life with Joy competition. Good luck!
About the Author – Clare Chase
Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University.
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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Thank you to Choc Lit for including me in the blog tour fun!