The Love Programme
written by Zanna Mackenzie
published by Astraea Press
About the book: Thanks to an embarrassing incident involving a wedding and her ex-boyfriend Marcus, Lucy has to leave her home town in a hurry and needs a place to escape to for a while.
Best friend Fiona is convinced now would be a good time for Lucy to get herself a new life with some potential for romance thrown in. Fate seems to agree when Lucy is given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a TV show and be a contestant on The Love Programme – two weeks of luxury living on a grand Highland estate coupled with, she hopes, fun and romance in wildest Scotland.
When Lucy meets Paul – the young, handsome owner of the Highland estate – she thinks she may have found the love of her life but who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life? When she discovers that Marcus is planning to follow her to Scotland to win her back Lucy has some serious soul searching to do. Does she have a future with Paul, with Marcus or is she yet to find the man of her dreams?
Please enjoy the following excerpt from The Love Programme.
“Poor woman. Imagine being left at the altar.” Fiona licked her lips and placed her fork back on the now empty plate, having demolished a generous portion of blueberry cheesecake. “It’s the kind of thing you never recover from, surely.”
“I know, I know, and I’m mortified everybody thinks I was in some way to blame.” Lucy sighed and searched in her handbag for a tissue. “I tried to call Amelie afterwards to explain there was nothing going on between me and Marcus, but her mum slammed the phone down on me. Everyone hates me and I haven’t even done anything wrong.”
“So, where is Marcus now then?”
“He flew out to Portugal yesterday after the wedding to stay with his sister and her family. He rang me from the airport and asked if I’d fly out to join him, can you believe it?” Lucy shook her head in despair. “What do I have to do for him to get the message?”
“Well, he’s obviously still crazy about you.” Fiona sighed and then pinched the uneaten biscotti from the side of Lucy’s cup and saucer. “In some ways it’s rather romantic.”
“Fi! It’s not and you know it! You’ve known me since school, and you know how he’s been driving me crazy for years! You, of all people, should understand!” Lucy replied, trying to re-trieve the stolen biscotti from Fiona. “I want some freedom from him. I want a life. I want to be able to try to find my Mr. Perfect.”
Fiona shook her head despairingly. “Not Mr. Perfect again. Don’t tell me — the man of your dreams needs to be,” she started to count on her fingers, “One, he needs to be fabulously wealthy. Two, he needs to be drop dead gorgeous. Three, kind and loving, attentive and thought-ful. Four, intelligent and successful. Five…”
Lucy held her hand up in protest. “Well, a girl needs to aim high.”
“I understand about you and Marcus. He’s not the man for you, but I’m afraid you’re not being realistic in the male wish list department. Firstly, you swap and change your mind about things all the while, and secondly, you know Mr. Perfect doesn’t even exist,” Fiona said, with a regretful smile. “I’m sure we all wish he did, but he doesn’t. Never has.”
Looking like a child who’d just been told Santa Claus wasn’t real, Lucy replied, “Okay for you to say. You’ve found your soulmate and are heading for the Friadon wedding of the year in a couple of weeks.”
“Yes, this is true.” Fiona nodded, a blissful smile appearing on her face. “But don’t forget I was realistic. I know Luke’s the one for me. I accept he’s not Mr. Perfect. He doesn’t shower me with roses or gifts, he goes down to the pub with his mates to watch the football far too often, and he’s not made of money. Oh, and he hates shopping!”
Lucy shook her head, pretending to disapprove. “And yet you still love him!”
“Yes, I do.” Fiona snapped the biscotti in half and handed one piece to Lucy. “Didn’t you ever love Marcus?”
“No. Well, maybe I thought I did when I was younger. We were great together for a while.” She sighed, stirring her coffee absentmindedly. “I suppose I’ve never had much chance to date other guys, to experience life. That’s part of the problem. Marcus always wanted us to go absolutely everywhere together when we were dating.”
“I don’t know how you’ve managed. To reach the ripe old age of twenty three, and you can probably count the number of boyfriends you’ve had on three fingers.”
Lucy buried her head in her hands, a curtain of straight blonde hair falling forward to hide her face. “I know. It’s crazy. And now I’m hated by pretty much every female within a ten mile ra-dius because they think I’m a trollop and I’ve been carrying on with Marcus whilst he’s been en-gaged. I’m completely innocent in all of this, yet I’m the one getting bad-mouthed.”
“They’ll get over it.” Pausing for dramatic effect, Fiona added, “It’ll just probably take a long while. In the meantime you’ll have to get used to being thought of as a wanton woman.” Patting her hand reassuringly, she said, “Anyway, I’m still your friend.”
“Great, thanks,” muttered Lucy, head still in her hands. “Sometimes I just feel this overwhelming desire to move away from here, to get myself a new life.”
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Zanna Mackenzie, author of The Love Programme, to the blog today. She has prepared the following guest post for all of you about why she became a writer.
I suppose the desire to write has always been in me; I can remember making up stories as a child. At school I wanted to be a journalist but changed my mind when I realised you had to have quite a strong and forceful personality to do that job successfully, which I don’t! Instead I trained for and worked in my second choice of career – travel.
I became a travel agent, then worked in the promotion of domestic tourism in the Heart of England. It was whilst researching and writing promotional brochures for my job I rediscovered my love of writing and began to put together some travel articles for magazines. After that, I wrote articles on a variety of topics for various publications, did a course on periodical journalism, followed by a comprehensive course on fiction and non-fiction writing, then launched a freelance writing career and became the editor of several business publications and a property and interior design magazine.
Somehow though I had the feeling it still wasn’t enough – the desire to write fiction flourished and I started with short stories for magazines and then formed the ideas, plot and characters for my first novel. It felt as though this was what I was meant to be doing; I loved getting lost in the fictitious world I was creating, getting to know the characters, eager for the next opportunity to dip back into the book and write more of the story. That was several years ago and I have written a few more books since then and was truly delighted to recently have 2 of my books published – The Love Programme with Astraea Press and How Do You Spell Love with Crooked Cat Publishing.
About the author: Zanna Mackenzie lives in the East Midlands in the UK with her husband, 3 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!
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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!