The Man Across The Street: An uplifting story of love and hope for 2020 (The Hope Street Series Book 1) by Marcie Steele. @Bloodredbooks @marcie_steele #blog #review #romance #womensfiction

I was SO excited to be given an advance reader copy of this amazing book by Marci Steele. I hadn’t read anything by this author before, but I’ll definitely be watching for her other books in this series.


Maybe I’m scared to be happy…

The Man Across The Street: An uplifting story of love and hope for 2020 (The Hope Street Series Book 1) by [Steele, Marcie]Meet Hannah – she’s been her mum’s sole carer since she was eighteen. Now alone after Martha’s sudden death, Hannah feels lost in the only place she’s known as home, Hope Street. Coming up to a milestone birthday, she’s wondering what her purpose in life is.

Meet Doug – a workaholic, he’s in the office from dusk ’til dawn, and when he has a heart attack. Now on the mend, he needs to de-stress his life and focus on living it, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Doug moves to Hope Street, number 35. Hannah lives at number 34, directly opposite. From the moment they meet, there’s a spark.

But there are secrets too. Hannah’s mum has been keeping something from her, her sister left over twenty years ago, and there can’t be such a simple reason why Doug has moved to Somerley. Can there?

The Man Across the Street is the first of a new series by bestselling author, Marcie Steele. It features a host of characters living on Hope Street in the market town of Somerley, also featured in The Somerley Series. Each character will have their own standalone story in books to follow.

Publisher: Blood Red Books (January 1, 2020)

Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Buying links here


Hannah Lockley is lost. Having cared for her mother after an accident, she has no career prospects and can’t afford to go to college. But is her life as dire as she thinks? Living down a cobblestone road at 34 Hope Street, she knows almost everyone in the neighborhood. You can’t help warming to her lively, social personality and (I agree with her mum) she’d make an excellent nurse.

Doug and Alex Peterson work in the Salford Business Quarter, an office building that overlooks a park. They are embarking on demolishing a derelict factory on the waterfront to build sixteen flats. But when Doug moves into a house on Hope Street, his life becomes forever changed. He cannot get Hannah, his new neighbor, out of his mind. But he also can’t get his workaholic, obsessive past out of his head either.

Told from both Hannah and Doug’s perspectives, I found myself emotionally invested from the start. Steele has a knack of getting under her readers’ sin and this book is no exception. I love books about love, loss, and relationships, and the trials the characters face through each chapter. But this book doesn’t come without it’s hardships, and there’s a mystery to solve—a Pandora’s box—which gives the story an added layer I crave as a reader.

As Hannah chases up questions of her past with the widow at number three, the intrigue thickens. Phoebe is the best friend a girl could want and she’s always there to pick up the pieces. But why was Hannah’s mum holding on to such a secret? Talking to her mother’s grave doesn’t help and working out the ‘wherewithals’ with Thelma and Renee isn’t getting her anywhere. Who else is left to ask? Doug is such a kind man, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. But he has his secrets too.

One of the reasons I loved this book from the start was the age group of the characters. Doug is in his late forties (so I can resonate) and Hannah is not that far behind. You can live their lives through them as the author delivers each character on point and so accurately that it’s impossible not to be affected in some way. You want to wrap Hannah in a big hug and tell her it’s all going to be okay, but in order to grow she has to face pain head on.

In my opinion, Marcie Steel totally smashes this one out of the park. A heartfelt examination of a woman’s most wrenching moments as she struggles to find out who she really is. Another bestseller and one I highly recommend to those who love Women’s Romance Fiction.

Many thanks to the author, Marcie Steele, to the publisher and to the blog tour organizer, Sarah Hardy, for the privilege of reading this book.


‘Marcie Steele writes with such down to earth warmth that you wish you could live in her stories. The Man Across the Street is no exception, full of characters that you’d love to be friends with.’ Tilly Tennant.

‘Love, secrets, intrigue, heartache. Find it all on Hope Street. An engaging tale of ordinary lives to warm you heart and restore your faith in mankind.’ Imogen Clark

If you love an uplifting story about new beginnings, then The Man Across The Street is the perfect read to curl up with. Fans of Hannah Ellis, Debbie Johnson and Emily Harvale will love this book.

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Marcie Steele and I also write under the name of Mel Sherratt.

As Mel, I write crime thrillers, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as I call it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all eight of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the kindle UK top 20.

However, I’m a romantic at heart and I’ve always wanted to write about characters who were not necessarily involved in the darker side of life. Coffee, cakes and friends are three of my favourite things, hence Stirred with Love for my first book writing as Marcie Steele. The Little Market Stall of Hope and Heartbreak and The Second Chance Shoe Shop are also available now.

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter. You can find out more at Mel’s website or I’m on Twitter at @marcie_steele.

Other books by Marcie Steele

Marcie Steele

Author links:








A Warm Welcome to Vivienne Tuffnell



Viv as pirate (2)I am excited to welcome Vivienne Tuffnell who is here to talk about a  scene from The Bet, a book of ‘family secrets and wounded souls’ – as quoted by a five star Amazon reviewer.

Vivienne says…

My Twitter bio said writer, poet, explorer and mystic and that probably says it all quite neatly. I’ve written stories my whole life, even before I could actually read. My father mistakenly allowed me to use his typewriter from an early age and I was hooked. I’m not sure the typewriter survived very long having me bash out strings of letters in the belief that what I had in my head would magically transform into words others can read. I’ve got better at that. I write novels, short stories and poetry, and I also blog at

It’s very difficult to pinpoint favourite scenes but having narrowed it down, this scene from The Bet stands out as it comes at a crucial point in the narrative. The whole novel is written in two narrative strands, one labelled Then, one labelled Now.

This scene, from chapter six is from the Then strand. The driving force of the novel is the bet from the title: one woman challenges another to track down and seduce “the one that got away”. The fact that the male in question had been only fourteen at the time of the first attempted seduction isn’t something that bothers either woman; he becomes prey, not a person. This scene delineates the level of obsession that Jenny is already subject to by the time she finally meets the object of her hunt, Antony Ashurst. Set in a wing of a museum closed for refurbishment, this meeting might be seen by Jenny as serendipity as her attempts to find Ashurst have so far failed; she knows him instantaneously, as she was told she would. Ashurst, however, is at this stage oblivious of her and her quest.

It’s this that made the scene so powerful to write; it’s one of those meetings where one party knows how significant it is, yet the other remains innocent of the whole matter. There’s a hint of coming tragedy in this innocence; all the stuffed and posed animals in glass cases, like hunting trophies, looking on, all glassy-eyed, immobile, and helpless.

Greville Thornicroft was about sixty and tweedy, very like a caricature of the eccentric archaeologist, but his grey eyes seemed kind behind a gruff manner.

“Do come upstairs to my office,” he said. “We can discuss the visit in more detail there.”

More detail possibly, but certainly not more comfort. His office was packed with shelves crammed full of neatly labelled boxes and cartons. A stuffed owl sat on the shelf behind his desk, looking down on her with shiny glass eyes that looked scarily real, and the only spare chair was occupied by a stuffed badger.

“Just put it on the floor,” he said vaguely when she held it up. “I did say work was still very much in progress. The powers that be want a more up-to-date museum, more hands-on stuff,” he used the phrase with evident distaste, “more accessible, whatever they mean by that. Living history; that sort of thing. No more Victorian cases of dead things. Yes well, that’s all fine and good, but the money only goes so far, and then what are we meant to do with all the dead things in glass cases?”

“I really don’t have any idea, Dr Thornicroft,” Jenny said politely.

DSCI0024 (2)

“Well, nor do I, but apparently we aren’t allowed to just chuck them away or have a big bonfire. The more modern wing has been revamped by professional exhibition designers, all clever people certainly, but we’re left in the original wing with rooms full of big Victorian cases and lots of,” he gestured at the owl and badger, “dead things, and we have to try with the tiny budget we have left to make the dead things in cases somehow fresh and new and interesting.” He sighed. “Oh and shards of pottery and Roman glass and stone arrowheads and the like to make it even more interesting. However,” he managed a smile, “I have been fortunate in acquiring an assistant who has some excellent ideas as well as a physique considerably more suited than my own to clambering inside these Victorian cases to rearrange and revamp exhibits. I have also found him excellent working with just the sort of school visit you are proposing. May I suggest we include him in our discussions, and our tour of the museum?”

“Certainly,” said Jenny, amenably, but slightly bored.

“Do follow me; I shall endeavour to try and track him down quickly.”

The old man took her out of his office and up to a second floor gallery with a sign declaring it to be closed for renovations. The long darkened room was filled with rows of huge display cases, many of them empty, their contents laid out on the floor in boxes and bags, some of the larger items uncovered. It felt quite eerie as the eyes of some of the stuffed animals seemed to gleam in the subdued light and to follow her as she followed Dr Thornicroft.

“Ah, there he is,” said the old man, striding across the room with greater speed than Jenny expected.

At the far end, there was someone inside a display case: stretched out, back arched slightly, slender body poised over a display of small brownish grey animals. Their arrival had caught his attention: a dark head turned slightly towards them, then back to what he was doing.

“Just a minute,” he said. “This rat has been giving me trouble.”

Final version the Bet (2)As she got closer, she could see that the inside of the case had been redone to show a mock-up of a storm drain or sewer; the brown animals were rats. When she looked more closely Jenny could see he was carefully fixing a stuffed rat to a brick jutting out from high up the sewer wall.

“Done it,” came the voice, and the figure wriggled carefully backwards out of the case, which was open at one end. Thornicroft’s assistant stretched his arms above his head, getting the knots out of muscles cramped from an hour or so inside the confines of the case, pushed his hair out of his eyes and looked at them.

“This is Miss Graham,” said Thornicroft, “who is hoping to bring a class to see our humble establishment. Miss Graham, the young man so artistically directing rats is not as you may think the Pied Piper of Hamlin, though he may be just as good with children-”

“I don’t usually use tacks and wire to keep them in place, though,” interrupted the young man with the most devastating grin.

“Indeed. I should hope not. Nor yet with an enchanted flute. No, as I was saying, Miss Graham, this is my assistant, Antony Ashurst.”

But Jenny already knew that.

Thank you Vivienne for visiting my blog today. Good luck with The Bet, a book which has already garnered many five star reviews on Amazon.

For more of Vivienne’s books, why not visit her at the links below:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:



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Also by Vivienne Tuffnell

A Warm Welcome to Author John Holt

John HoltI’m extremely excited to welcome John Holt, author of The Thackery Journal.

John was born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He currently lives in Essex with his wife, Margaret, and his daughter Elizabeth. For many years he was a Chartered Surveyor, until he retired in 2008. John had always wanted to write a novel but could never think of a good enough plot. He started to write his first novel, The Kammersee Affair, in September 2005, and it was published in December 2006.

John has very kindly provided us with a scene from The Thackery Journal, a “What If” novel regarding the assassination of Lincoln.

Background –

“The Thackery Journal” set during and just after the end of the American Civil War, is the story of two lifelong friends – Jake Thackery and Miles Drew – who join on opposite sides of the conflict. As the story progresses both men become involved in the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Jake becomes a fugitive. Wounded, he takes shelter. Soon his pursuers close in.

There they are he whispered. He could hear them on the stairs. Their boots echoing loudly on the timber treads. He could hear the timbers creaking. They were shouting excitedly to each other, knowing that their quarry was near, knowing that soon they would have him. Their search would soon be over.

He could hear doors slamming as rooms on the lower floors were searched. Somebody was screaming as they were being dragged down the stairs. Douglas, he thought, the man who had sheltered him. He will certainly talk, Thackery knew that. Under torture who could blame him? Maybe that would save his life. He would tell them everything. Then they would come for him. They would be here quite soon now.

He dipped the pen into the ink and started to write once more. His hands were shaking, and the sweat ran down his forehead into his eyes.

“I can hear them coming for me. They are coming up the staircase.”

Suddenly he heard somebody call out. “Here.”

“In there,” said another.

Then there was a loud crash against the door.

“We have him now,” called a third voice.

“He cannot get away. Not this time,” from a fourth. Another heavy blow struck the door. “Open up,” one shouted. They were trying to break the door down.

“They are outside now, banging on the door, they are coming for me.”

Jake Thackery1

Jake Thackery (a likeness)

Thackery stood up and walked to the door. He checked the lock. It was secured. He pushed the iron bolt firmly into the keep at the top of the door. He then did the same to the one at the bottom. Satisfied, he then walked over to the cabinet at the side of the room. His arm hurt badly but he started to push the cabinet towards the door, to form a barricade. He knew that it would not stop them, but it would delay them just long enough for his purpose. He pushed the cabinet in front of the door. There was a third crash. The door shuddered, but held firm.


He hurried back to the table and took up his pen once more. He glanced at what he had written, then continued writing.

“It will not be much longer.”

He was startled by another heavy blow hitting the door. Then there was a sudden noise as one of the door panels split. He looked towards the door for a moment, and then turned away. He took a deep breath. He slowly closed the case and placed the watch back onto the table. Time was running out. He carefully picked up the revolver. Taking into his hand he checked that it was loaded. He then carefully cocked the hammer. Next he placed the barrel at his right temple. He could feel the cold steel against his skin. It was cooling, soothing somehow. His hand stopped shaking. There was another crash against the door. The cabinet shuddered and moved a short distance. Then another crash and then another. The doorframe started to splinter. The bolt keep snapped, and fell away.

They would be inside in a very short time now. He felt the cold trigger against his finger. He looked towards the door. He hesitated for a moment or two longer. His breathing became shallow. He felt very hot. Sweat ran down his face. He started to cry. He closed his eyes tightly. “Mother,” he called out loudly. “Mother, please forgive me.”

Emily, Jake's Mother

Emily, Jake’s Mother (a likeness)


Suddenly there was another heavy thud against the door. The frame shattered and the door burst open, hanging down as the top hinge split. The cabinet slid across the floor. The door hung precariously for a few seconds, and then fell loudly to the floor, tearing off the lower hinge. Jacob opened his eyes wide, and turned his face towards the doorway.


Standing at the opening was his friend Miles. Just like their childhood games of hide and seek, Miles had found him once again, as usual.

Jacob quickly looked away. Then slowly, gently, he started to squeeze the trigger.


John Holt has published well over sixteen books, all of which and can be found on

Click on the Links below for the The Thackery Journal, available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Barnes & Noble

To find out more about John and for a complete list of his books, why not visit his Amazon Author Page

Authors Note: The Thackery Journal is, basically a fiction story. Although it mentions some real events, the story never happened. Apart from Lincoln, Grant, and John Wilkes Booth, all other characters are imaginary and never existed. The two main characters – Jake Thackery and Miles Drew – are fictional and have no relationship with any one living or not.

Nonetheless, I did want to give the impression that maybe, just perhaps, the story could have been true. I decided, by way of an experiment, to include some images to give a feel for the period and the events depicted. Hence there are images of the real battles of the war; there are real images of Lincoln and the assassination; there are real images of General Grant; and then there are also the pretend images of “Jake’s parents”; “Miles”; “Miles cousin”; “The fob watch that belonged to Jake’s mother”; and, of course “Captain Jake Thackery – C.S.A.”

Thackery Journal