Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I’m very happy to share with you today information about this book, including an extract, and the author’s bio . . . That extract has me very tempted to add this book to my tbr pile – see if you agree!
Sometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself
Bea Stevens and Ryan O Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.
When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together?
As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?
Just Bea takes the reader on a heart-warming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.
Bea has had too much to drink at the floor manager’s Xmas party. She is feeling sorry for herself as she was passed over for promotion. That morning on her way into work she introduced herself to a homeless man, Ryan, as he was handing out fliers with information about a man Bea once knew who had gone missing.
Bea stumbled out of King’s Cross Station and into the scene from a Christmas card. Powder soft snow, already a few inches thick, coated everything. A scattering of footprints was fast disappearing as more snow fell. She saw Ryan, the man with the fliers, straight away; he was helping an old woman create some shelter out of cardboard boxes.
‘You can’t sleep out here,’ Bea slurred as she carefully planted one foot in front of the other, her feet sinking into the new snow. Nobody should need to sleep on the street in this weather.
‘Careful.’ Ryan reached out his hand to Bea and she jolted away.
A heel skidded and she landed hard on her bottom. Cold, wet snow stung her calves and thighs.
‘I saw you going, but I was too late.’
What was he talking about? If he hadn’t tried to grab hold of her, she wouldn’t have fallen and now she was sprawled, legs akimbo.
Ryan bent over her, as though she were the one in need of help. Oh God, the humiliation. ‘It’s okay,’ Bea said as she struggled up.
‘I told you it was snow boot weather.’ Ryan held up one of Bea’s shoes and in his other hand, the heel.
Bea used the railings to hoist herself up; the sting of ice on her shoeless foot was unbearable. How long did it take to get frostbite? She’d get chilblains, for sure. Bea slid back down the railings and landed on Ryan’s sleeping bag.
‘It’s not fair. I work bloody hard. Nobody appreciates me. And now this!’
The old woman muttered something and then burrowed into her cardboard shelter.
‘Life’s shit. But you have to make the most of what you have and you –’
‘Are a selfish cow. I know. Everyone thinks so.’ Bea’s throat clogged with tears.
Ryan was staring at her again – but maybe now he had cause to stare. She was making a spectacle of herself but Bea didn’t have the energy or will to control her emotions. Losing the heel of one of her Jimmy Choos wasn’t a catastrophe in itself but it felt like it on top of everything else she had endured that day. Then when she tried to be a good Samaritan – to show this man the compassion that she would have wanted Declan to experience – he bloody well threw it back in her face.
‘Why didn’t you let me buy you a coffee this morning?’ she wailed.
‘Because I don’t drink caffeine.’ Ryan spoke softly, a lilt to his voice.
Big flakes of snow that reminded Bea of ones she had cut from paper in school rested and then melted on her nose and eyelashes. They felt like tears, and maybe they were. Bea buried her face in her scarf, wishing that she could curl up and go to sleep right there. Let the snow bury her.
Ryan coughed. ‘I don’t want to seem inhospitable but you’re sitting on my bed and it’s getting late. Maybe you should go home and sleep it off.’
Her mother would be appalled. She was slumped on a homeless man’s bedding at eleven thirty at night, on the street at King’s Cross. Bea was appalled. She scrambled to her feet. The snow was falling thick and fast.
‘I’ll put something over the cardboard, Sal, make it waterproof,’ Ryan said to the old woman.
It was almost impossible negotiating the snow with one heel missing, but Bea could not bear the feeling of ice on the sole of her foot. She headed for Denny’s because that had been in her mind when she got off the train – to buy a strong coffee. But when she was at the counter, Bea had an idea. Hot chocolate. A hot chocolate would warm Ryan and Sal up and make amends for her bad manners. Hot chocolate didn’t have caffeine. Then she would go home to bed.
When Bea returned balancing two large hot chocolates, Ryan was securing thick bin liners over the cardboard shelter. Triumphant in her act of generosity, Bea held up her offerings. ‘I got you both a – ouch!’ The lid slipped off one of the cups, scalding her hand, and Bea lost her grip. Almost in slow motion, she watched both cups tumble through the air. The brown liquid made an arc before landing on Ryan’s sleeping bag.
‘Jesus Christ!’ He whipped up his bedding but it had already absorbed the hot, sticky drink.
‘I’m so sorry.’ Bea tried to help but he elbowed her away.
Author Bio –
Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.
Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.
Just Bea is her second novel. Her debut The Borrowed Boy was published last year.
Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.
Social Media Links –
Facebook Deborah Klee Author