Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
When Willow walks out on her own wedding, there’s only one place she can go…
Growing up in the island village of Seaview, Willow always dreamed of a bigger life. Then her childhood sweetheart Luc betrayed her and she ran, resolving never to look back. Now, twelve years on, her glamorous London life is a mess and the island is her only option.
But she’s not the only one back for the summer. Luc is now a world-famous heartthrob musician, and he’s finally come home to headline the Isle of Wight’s annual music festival.
As Willow untangles her messy past, she stumbles on a secret that could destroy her family, the island’s fragile community – and her second chance at love…
Wondering how this will start . . . no need, I’m very happy to share the Prologue with you now:
Willow sat in the back of the limousine staring at the bouquet of wildflowers in her lap. These simple flowers had been one of the few things she’d insisted on as the planning for today had got more and more out of hand – flowers that reminded her who she used to be. She’d also insisted on just having one bridesmaid, her best friend Kate who she’d known almost as long as she’d known Charlie, since they were all at university together. Kate would be waiting for her at the church, an oasis of calm on this crazy day. A day that Willow had lost control of months ago.
‘Are you all right, love?’ her father asked from the seat next to her as the limousine pulled up outside the church. He ran his index finger around the collar of his shirt, looking hot and uncomfortable. Don Warwick was a much-acclaimed session musician, touring the world playing guitar for big-name stars – he was flying out to America after the wedding to play a handful of dates along the west coast. The last time he’d worn a suit, he’d claimed earlier this morning, was on his own wedding day.
‘I’m just nervous I guess,’ Willow replied quietly, but what she was feeling wasn’t nerves. It was fear.
On paper Willow’s life was perfect – a First from Cambridge University, an internship in one of the big banks in the City shortly followed by a permanent job offer – she’d been there nearly eight years now. She and Charlie had a beautiful flat in central London and today was her wedding day, perfect in every way – even the sun had come out for the afternoon. Willow had achieved everything she’d ever wanted and had come a long way from her Bohemian upbringing on the Island she used to call home.
So where was this unsettled feeling coming from? A feeling that had been growing for weeks. It wasn’t just about Charlie’s parents taking over the planning of the wedding – after all she should be grateful to them for that as work had been far too busy for her to do much of the planning herself. This was to do with Charlie. He had changed her life in ways she could never have imagined, introduced her to a world that she would never otherwise have been able to be a part of and for that she was grateful. Wasn’t she? Of course she was, but there seemed to be so many rules to fit into that world, so many ways she’d had to change herself – what she wore, how she spoke, what she drank, the way she held herself. Did she really want to be a part of that world for the rest of her life?
‘Willow,’ Don said gently, pulling her out of the thoughts spiralling in her head. ‘We should get going. There’s a whole church full of people waiting for you.’
She nodded, shaking away her thoughts as the driver opened the door for her to step out of the car. This was just pre-wedding jitters. Everybody got them.
Don offered her his arm. ‘You look beautiful, love,’ he said as she tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow. ‘I’m so proud of you.’
Kate was waiting for them outside the church just as she’d promised, and she greeted Willow with a gentle hug. Kate had been in a strange mood all day so it was nice to see her smile. Willow wanted to ask her what was wrong, but she thought she knew. Once Willow and Charlie were married, Kate would be the only single one in their group. It shouldn’t matter in this day and age but somehow it seemed to matter to Kate, and Willow wondered why.
‘Are you ready?’ Kate said.
Willow peered into the church, allowing her eyes to grow accustomed to the gloom. She saw the huge crowd of people that were waiting for her, most of whom she didn’t even know, and at the other end of the aisle she saw Charlie, standing with his brother, laughing at some joke or other. As she watched him that feeling of unease or fear washed over her again as she remembered the little digs and jibes Charlie had made about her over the years, as though he was telling her she’d never really fit in – the way he didn’t like her to drink too much, the way he’d spoken to Skye that afternoon all those years ago…
‘I can’t do it,’ Willow said.
‘What?’ Kate replied, her face changing to something that looked like anger.
‘Love?’ Don asked, his brow furrowing.
Willow started to walk away from the church then, her heels clicking on the paving stones as she strode back towards the limousine – the limousine she hadn’t wanted in the first place. She turned to look over her shoulder.
‘I can’t do it,’ she repeated. ‘You’ll have to tell Charlie.’ Just before Kate turned away to go into the church Willow saw the look on her face, her mouth a hard line, her eyes like steel.
The driver was leaning against the bonnet of the car smoking a cigarette.
‘We need to leave,’ she said, panic rising in her throat. ‘Now!’
The driver stubbed out his cigarette and Willow felt her father’s hand on her shoulder.
‘Just take us back to the hotel, mate,’ Don said. Then he turned to Willow. ‘I’ll phone your mum and get her to meet us there.’
Later when Willow thought about the moment she decided to walk away, she hadn’t been able to work out what she’d wanted instead, or where she had wanted to go. All she had known was that she couldn’t go through with the wedding. It was a gut reaction, instinctual, as though all those Neanderthal fight-or-flight impulses had kicked in at once. She’d wanted to be anywhere other than a village church in Surrey on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
When her mother had met them back at the hotel, she asked Willow what she wanted to do but Willow had no idea. She couldn’t go back to the Great Portland Street flat she shared with Charlie because she couldn’t face him if he was already there and, tempted as she was to go to America with her dad, her passport was back at the flat. In the end Willow had hitched up the ridiculously over-the-top skirts of her wedding dress and stepped into her mother’s Jeep to go back to the Isle of Wight – a journey she hadn’t made since she had moved to London with Charlie over eight years ago. A journey she had never imagined making again, especially whilst wearing five thousand pounds’ worth of surprisingly heavy wedding dress.
I hope that helps tempt you to read this fun sounding book – it has me!
Rachel Burton has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and always dreamed of being a writer until life somehow got in the way. After reading for a degree in Classics and another in English Literature she accidentally fell into a career in law, but eventually managed to write her first book on her lunch breaks.
She has spent most of her life between Cambridge and London but now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and their three cats. She loves yoga, ice hockey, tea, The Beatles, dresses with pockets and very tall romantic heroes.
Find her on Twitter & Instagram as @RachelBWriter or follow her blog at rachelburtonwrites.com. She is always happy to talk books, writing, music, cats and how the weather in Yorkshire is rubbish. She is mostly dreaming of her next holiday….
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