#Blogtour #Review #Extract: Only One Woman by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon @bucolicfrolics @Jane_Risdon @AccentPress
Release date - 23rd November 2017
Book length - 300 pages
Publisher - Accent Press
Amazon UK - www.amazon.co.uk
Amazon US - www.amazon.com
I want to thank Christina Jones, Jane Risdon, and Accent Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review and the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Two women, one love story.
June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But after a romantic summer together they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.
December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.
As the final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?
I really enjoyed ONLY ONE WOMAN by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon as it transported me to the 1960's and opened up a different time in front of my very eyes. While I wasn't born at the time that this story is based it didn't stop me revelling in the music scene, lifestyle, and attitudes that existed back then. And the two female characters in this engaging story are compelling as we get lost in their emotions and visions for the future.
The story begins in the form of diary entries which really worked for me as it gave the narrative a personal touch that was nostalgic and informative at the same time - who hasn't written their deep, dark, and often ridiculous secrets in their secret journal? Scott is charismatic and vivacious and while I could understand his appeal, he also irritated the hell out of me plenty of times along the way. Renza and Stella are two very different personalities but you couldn't help but like them both even though we know that one of them will end up heartbroken at some stage.
ONLY ONE WOMAN by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon is a nostalgic throwback to the 60's yet it bursts with a fresh storyline that will hold your attention throughout - a very enjoyable read.
Christina Jones: I've written all my life, but only became a published novelist in 1997. Before that, I wrote short stories and newspaper articles for pin money while doing a series of naff jobs. In fact I've had twenty seven jobs and been sacked from nineteen of them for writing when I should have been working. I've been, among other things, a shop assistant, waitress, cleaner, secretary, factory worker, market-researcher, nanny, bookseller, night-club dancer, civil servant, blood donor attendant, fruit-picker and barmaid. I'm now, apparently, a Real Writer.
Writing for a living is wonderful - a dream come true - and I now manage to combine writing novels, short stories and articles with not doing the housework, not doing the gardening, not cooking much, but at least attempting to look after my husband - the Toyboy Trucker - and my daughter and our 17 rescued cats.
Jane Risdon: Crime writer who dabbles in other genres if the story dictates. Included in several anthologies.
Busy writing a series of novels Ms Birdsong Investigates about a former MI5 Officer - who left under a cloud - and cannot sit and watch murder, drug and gun running and people trafficking go on in her rural Oxfordshire village....publication early 2018.
Formerly in the International Music Business Jane now writes full time. She has a Blog on WordPress, a Facebook Author Page and is a keen photographer so you will see some of her photos there. She likes to interact with her followers.
For more information:
Website - www.christinajones.co.uk
Twitter - twitter.com/bucolicfrolics
Facebook - www.facebook.com/ChristinaJonesAuthor/?ref=br_rs
READ ON FOR A GLIMPSE AT RENZA'S DIARY ...
Renza’s Diary – June 29th 1968
What a dump! The local band seemed to live in part of an old house which looked derelict from what I could see. There wasn’t any furniture to speak of, just old packing cases for tables, piles of cushions and beanbags on the red thread-bare carpet. At least, I think it was red but it was hard to tell in the candle light coming from the Mateus Rose bottles dotted round the room.
The light flickered on Che Guevara and ‘Ban the Bomb’ posters, giving them a bit of a sinister look. Very anti-establishment here – Dad would go nuts.
Distorted shadows fell on couples lying around, mostly snogging or smoking, and a few were standing swaying to the music from the Philips Cassette player in the corner. I was saving up for one I’d seen in Rumbelows. It was going to take another month to have enough and I hoped it wouldn’t be gone before we moved. I should never have got the Cathy McGowan mini with the zipped front like Twiggy, it was far too expensive, it had left me without any money until the end of the month.
I hadn’t had chance to wear it yet because I was trying to hide it from Mum until she was in a good mood – whenever that was going to be. I earned the money for my clothes, so I didn’t see why I couldn’t wear what I wanted. But no, she had to inspect me every time I left the house, lecturing about what I’m wearing: too short, too long, too much leg showing – moan, moan, moan.
The dress is gorgeous though: paisley pink, sleeveless and with a fab mandarin collar – very sexy – and with my long white lace-up boots I am going to blow Scott’s mind when he sees me in it.
Scott had vanished into the gloom with the rest of the boys, and just as I was about to follow, someone lurched up to me and shoved a pile of home-taped cassettes into my hands. ‘Here, doll. Put some music on, there’s a love. Your choice but make it cool, right?’ And lurched off again.
I was just about to say I wasn’t the DJ and didn’t know how the cassette player worked when I noticed a couple heaving and groaning on a pile of grubby cushions almost by my feet.
I tried to avert my eyes and not blush – but too late. They rolled over and nothing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of witnessing two bearded men coming up for air following a long, fierce, snogging session.
I only just stopped myself shrieking out loud and tried not to look at the couple, both with long blond locks and tight bell-bottoms, as they got down and dirty again on the pile of cushions. I’d just assumed it was a guy and a girl. Well, I would. I mean, blokes kissing blokes? And they were groping each other.
I felt myself going scarlet as I had made eye contact with them. My mouth gaped open, and total confusion almost paralysed my brain. They were nearly having sex in front of everyone, including me – a convent girl – for goodness sake!
They just grinned at me and then started groping each other again. I looked away confused and embarrassed, and tried to concentrate on the cassette tapes in my hand.
But I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I watched them from underneath my long fringe, fascinated yet repelled at the same time.
Had anyone else noticed it was two blokes? Of course, I had heard about people like them, I mean, we got Sex Education at school, and hadn’t I been rescued from two girls trying to kiss me in the loos at Merry Hill for goodness sake. But actually seeing them, and watching them nearly ‘doing it’, well, that was something else. Part of me wanted to giggle. But I was cool, sophisticated, part of the ‘in crowd’. Wouldn’t do to make too much of it, otherwise I might look as if I didn’t belong and I really did want to belong.
I was supposed to be picking tapes to play and that was hard enough. Working out which songs would be hip and which ones might not be was giving me a migraine. I gave up and put them with the pile on the floor, deciding to let someone else pick the music.
I glanced round the gloomy room looking for Scott, or at least something to focus on and take my mind off the couple who were getting a bit too much for me to handle on my own. I eventually spotted Scott chatting to The Fulcrum’s drummer. Someone else had taken over the music and The Beatles, sang, ‘Girl,’ in the background, which made me want to laugh out loud. Not a hip thing to do. Wonder who chose that one? Someone else had seen the blokes, I bet.
I sat on the edge of a packing case and tried to catch Scott’s eye but he was too engrossed as he and the drummer poured another glass of Watney’s from the party tin.
Typical, he’s having another beer and I haven’t had a thing to drink yet.
When we’d arrived he’d told me not to drink or eat anything without showing him first. No explanation why, and that was ages ago. He’d gone off to the loo and hadn’t made it back to me yet. Clearly too many distractions, not just the beer.
Everyone else seemed to be getting seriously mellow. Why the hell couldn’t I at least have some food? It had been hours since I’d eaten and the sickly sweet smell in the room was making me feel a bit light-headed.
The Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’ repeated on the cassette player as if the tape had got stuck. It was their latest hit, I loved it. I looked over and saw a girl in a flowing kaftan re-insert the tape and it played again.
She watched it for a moment and then started swaying to the music all on her own in the centre of the room, her arms raised over her head, which seemed to rotate. I’d get dizzy doing that. I waited, but she didn’t fall over. Several blokes watched her closely.
Trying not to look at the two bearded beauties again, I stood up, smoothed my new purple Samantha Juste hipsters, and tucked my pink skinny rib into them. I wandered towards the wallpaper table and what was left of the food: a few soft looking sausage rolls and a couple of scotch eggs which had probably been sitting out for hours, I didn’t fancy the look of them. A few packets of Smith’s crisps and some peanuts was the alternative. I grabbed a packet and a handful of nuts and tucked in whilst I studiously avoided the lovers on the cushions.
‘Hi babe, what’s your name?’ I turned to see a tall skinny bloke with long black hair and a pair of lime green bell-bottoms grinning at me, cigarette dangling from his rather thick lips. I peered hard at him and then realised he was one of The Fulcrum’s guitarists, so it must be his party.
‘Saw you at the gig tonight,’ he added, flicking his ash away.
‘Err, yeah,’ I said looking for Scott. I was trapped between the table and the guitarist, who kept blowing sweet smelling smoke at me. I felt sick from it.
‘How about you and me then, babe?’ he moved up close to me and put an arm round my waist. He smelled of Old Spice. I can’t stand Old Spice.
‘I’m with my boyfriend,’ I said lamely as I wriggled away from him.
‘Don’t look like it from here babe,’ he said as he grabbed me again. ‘Let’s go over there and get to know each other.’ He tried to pull me into the shadows.
‘No, please.’ I tried not to whine, it’s not cool to whine. The magazines all say boys hate whiney girls. ‘I really am with my boyfriend, he’s over there.’ I pointed to Scott still chatting to the drummer.
‘Yeah, cool… Come on babe, don’t be like that.’ He tugged my arm again and held me tightly.
‘Please, leave me alone,’ I whispered through gritted teeth, ‘I don’t want to go over there with you!’
Someone changed the tape and Amen Corner’s ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’ got a lot more people on their feet, and I started to get a bit claustrophobic as they seemed to close in on me. My head was spinning.
‘Hey, man, what gives?’ I nearly fainted with relief as Scott came up to us and put his hand on the guitarist’s shoulder. He grinned at me and winked.
‘Scott! Hi man, nothing much.’ My captor let go of my arm and took a long drag on his roll-up. ‘Your chick?’ He nodded towards me and blew smoke into my face. I started to cough and my eyes streamed.
Scott said, ‘Yeah, she is,’ and took my arm and guided me over to the drinks. He opened a Pepsi and handed the bottle to me. I gulped it down, handed the bottle back to Scott, and fished in my new Mary Quant shoulder bag for a hanky to dab my eyes. It came away all black from my mascara and eyeliner, and I had to fish around some more to find my mirror.
‘Oh, now look at my eyes,’ I sniffed. ‘Is there a ladies where I can redo my face?’ I looked like a panda with two black smudges where my perfectly applied Dusty Springfield look had been.
‘You don’t want to go in that loo, babe , trust me.’ Scott held my Pepsi in one hand and stroked my hair with his other.
My legs went to jelly. I came over all unnecessary every time he touched me, and I felt myself getting all hot and bothered. Scott looked curiously at me for a few seconds and then laughed out loud.
‘Look at you, getting in a tizzy.’ He laughed and handed me my Pepsi. ‘Drink that up and I’ll hold your mirror so you can do your face. We can go over there by the candles. I’m sure you’ll be able to see well enough to put your war paint on again.’
He held the mirror whilst I tried my best to repair my face. I felt his eyes upon me the whole time, watching me with an amused expression. My hands shook as I tried to re-apply my eyeliner and mascara. Damn the plastic eyeliner liquid, it never goes on easily and dries so fast. I put some spit on the mascara cake and dabbed the brush over it, and applied several layers to my lashes.
‘The stuff chicks mess with,’ Scott watched me closely, ‘you don’t need any of that, Renza, you are way cool without it you know.’
I blushed – again.
‘Oh God – what time is it?’ I asked, as The Beach Boys started to sing, ‘Darlin’.
‘About midnight. We’ll go soon, don’t worry, you won’t be late.’ Scott put his arms round me and held me close, and we swayed in time to the music.
My legs did a good job holding me upright but my body felt in a state of collapse. So close, and held so tightly, it was heaven. Scott stroked my hair and I closed my eyes and wished that it would never end. It was too much.
I came back to reality with a jolt when someone bellowed close to my ear.
‘Scott, man, great gig, hope you cats come and play with us again.’ The bass player with the local band held his hand out and they shook hands. He peered at me, giving me the once over.
‘No sweat,’ said Scott, ‘where’re you playing next?’ and he let go of me suddenly, so I had to struggle to support myself.
‘Back at Merryhill. We have three nights here before we go to Germany,’ the bass player said, tossing a peanut into the air and catching it in his mouth.
‘Oh, yeah of course. Well, we’re back here in about a month I think. We’re off to Scotland tomorrow, Elgin and Wick, and some other places I can’t think of,’ Scott told him.
Oh, yeah? It was news to me.
More couples were dancing now, swaying next to us as Scott dropped his bombshell.
‘Then we’re off on some cruises in the Med for a few weeks. It’s good money and our manager says it’s great exposure.’ ‘
My mind went blank for a few seconds: a few weeks, in the Med? He’d never told me any of this… A few weeks?
Scott must have seen how stricken I was as he put his arm round me and squeezed me tightly. ‘Sorry Renza, only found out earlier and was gonna tell you, but you know how it is,’ his voice trailed off when he saw this didn’t help.
I felt my whole world was coming to an end.
A girl in a tight fitting bolero top and hipster trousers came over to us and flung her arms round Scott, kissing him on the mouth, a bit too long and hard for my liking. Scott didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to push her away, and she melted into him as if she was trying to come out the other side.
‘Scott lover, how’s it hanging?’ She sounded just like Fenella Fielding, all breathy and wanton.
‘Yeah Scott, just how is it hanging?’ I snapped and flounced off to where I could see Rich sitting on his own, hugging a beer.
‘Hi Renza, babe, what’s up?’ Rich held the glass up to me in greeting and took another drag on his ciggy.
‘Who’s that girl talking to Scott?’ I asked plonking myself down next to him on the huge bean bag. We both nearly fell off as it settled itself with my extra weight.
‘Hey, don’t waste good beer babe.’ Rich held his glass away from me as I wriggled to get comfy.
‘Rich, who is she?’ I asked again as I saw her drape herself all over Scott and nestle into his shoulder. The bitch! Scott didn’t seem too bothered.
‘She used to help Stephan – he’s the band’s manager I told you about earlier – in the office in Jersey and then she came to the mainland with her boyfriend. She’s no one important, she sometimes hangs with the band when we’re over.’
I watched her like a hawk. Scott looked over and waved. The nerve!
Rich took a few gulps of beer and patted my leg. ‘Don’t fret about Scott, he’s mad about you. She’ll get the message after tonight.
I looked round the grubby room with its crates and boxes, and fake Greek Taverna decorations hanging from the walls, the fake fishing nets, glass baubles attached, and wine bottles with candles burning in them. And the couples seething in a mass on the floor, in the shadows, and on the cushions, doing goodness knows what, and I wanted to go home.
Actually, I wanted to get Scott to myself. Back home. In the village. Where things were normal.
‘Magical Mystery Tour’ came on and I suddenly thought about having to miss The Beatles at the Hammersmith Odeon, because I was ‘Mrs Spoffington’ in the school play, and couldn’t get out of it. Instead of The Beatles giving me the thrill of my life I was stuck on stage singing ‘Oh I do like to be beside the sodding sea-side,’ to a hall full of boring parents. Not that mine bothered to go.
‘Rich, mate, hi. Good gig. Stephan about tonight?’ A huge man of about thirty came up to us and nodded at me. ‘Want to sort some stuff out with him.’
He was wearing beads and a kaftan with an orange and green squiggly pattern on it, and had his ears pierced. His long black hair hung in tight curls around his shoulders. Mum would just love him.
‘Oh Renza, this is Psychedelic Smith,’ Rich said. ‘Remember we told you about him, he’s our fixer.’ I remembered. Apparently he was helping Stephan get Narnia’s Children a record deal. Everyone had to kiss up to him I was told. Well, thankfully, I don’t.
Psychedelic Smith dismissed me with a brief smile before turning back to Rich.
‘Stephan’s back in the smoke mate, got Top of the Pops with The White Knights, so he’s gotta be there for that.’ Rich drained his glass and put it on the floor next to him.
‘Right, yeah, going up the charts fast. That’s cool, I’ll ring him later. I’m in town tomorrow and want to arrange some record company auditions for the guys. got some label interest.’
‘Do I need to reorganise anything for the boys?’ Rich asked.
‘Nope, I’ll sort some dates out with Stephan, he’ll let you know in good time. I’ve got some songs lined up for the guys to hear, so we’ll sort some dates for visiting publishers in town, too.’
I couldn’t help wondering what mum and Mrs Digby would say if Psychedelic Smith turned up in the village to visit the band. I giggled quietly.
Psychedelic Smith began to roll a ciggy and offered one to Rich. .
Rich shook his head and got to his feet. ‘Nah, mate, gotta drive back soon or her Mum’ll kill me if she’s not home on time, won’t she, babe?’ Rich smiled at me and looked at his watch, then went off to round up the band.
Psychedelic Smith took a few more drags and offered me one. I shook my head. I could just see me floating in the front door with Mum waiting up to look me over and make sure I hadn’t ‘been up to anything’.
The Demis Russos look-alike shrugged and headed for the kitchen. Dad would have a blue fit if he knew I was ‘fraternizing,’ with blokes in dresses.
I knew the only reason I’d been allowed out so late with the band was because Mum quite liked Rich and he’d sweet-talked her into letting me go to the gig. God! If she could see me now, in this horrible house with everyone stoned, she’d have a migraine for a week worrying in case the village found out.
I looked at my watch. If we didn’t leave soon I was going to be seriously late and that would mean all hell breaking loose. Scott was nowhere to be seen now and Rich was chatting to ‘The Bitch’ by the food. I know it is horrid calling her that but she’s got right up my nose, wall-papering herself all over Scott.
People were still wrestling on the floor which meant I had to watch where I looked: I didn’t want to appear a Peeping Tom, though it was hard not to cast a sly glance now and again. I mean, seriously, some were actually ‘at it’ in full view. Anyone would look, wouldn’t they?
Thinking about it, how do you ‘do it’ in public without all your bits and stuff being on show? I couldn’t see anything, you know, rude or anything, but they were definitely ‘doing it’, I just couldn’t fathom how.
‘You look deep in thought,’ Scott made me jump, ‘what’re you looking at?’
Before I could answer he followed my gaze to the nearest couple. He threw his head back and laughed loudly. I blushed as if I’d been caught out doing something naughty.
‘Ah!’ he said, ‘I see.’
I felt really stupid. I could feel the heat rising up my neck to my face, thank goodness it was so gloomy.
‘Bit of an education eh?’ He grabbed my arm and led me through to what could only be called an apology for a kitchen. ‘Can you wait here while I get the others? We should leave now. Don’t move. I won’t be long.’
And off he went again.
The room was horrid. The sink was all cracked with brown stains and the green larder door was hanging off. A few tins of baked beans and soup was all that I could see on the shelves. A dirty milk bottle was on the draining board with about a dozen tea cups and spoons, all in need of a good wash. Dirty dishes were piled next to them, some with food still on them. I screwed my face up in disgust. How could anyone live like this?
An old gingham curtain hung in tatters at the filthy window which had a crazy paving of cracks across the top. A pedal bin stood in the corner overflowing with baked bean tins and Woodbine packets. The room stank of mold and rotting food.
I waited and tried not to think of what was surrounding me. Even my boots were sticking to the linoleum. What the hell was keeping Scot ‘Whatcha.’
I looked round to see ‘The Bitch’ as I’ll always think of her, standing in the doorway. She must’ve followed me in.
‘Looking for Scott.’
‘Well, as you can see he isn’t here,’ I said frostily.
She laughed and leaned against the door jamb. Looking me up and down, she rummaged in her pink PVC bag and took a thin black cigarette out.
‘Light?’ she asked as she placed it between her full, pale lips.
‘Don’t smoke,’ I said, and then kicked myself. I shouldn’t have let her know I wasn’t that cool; too late.
She laughed, ‘What, too good to do the dreaded weed, eh?’ and she rummaged a bit more and came up with a box of Swan Vestas. ‘You must do something, coz Scott wouldn’t waste his time otherwise.’
She smirked and winked knowingly at me. I glared back.
She had long dark hair, cut like Cher’s, and her eyes were deep blue, peering out from her panda black eye make-up. She had a spot of acne on her chin, and that made me feel great.
The room filled with a pungent odour as she lit up and exhaled, blowing the smoke upwards. She folded her arms and continued to appraise me with an amused look on her face. The Hollies’ ‘Jennifer Eccles’ drifted into the room and she tapped her foot to the beat.
‘You’re the kid from where they live now,’ she stated flatly. ‘Not what I expected.’
I couldn’t think what to say. She made me feel like a stupid school kid and all my newly assumed sophistication was fast evaporating under her scrutiny. I shifted from one foot to another and flicked my hair forward so that she couldn’t see my face. I watched her from under my fringe. She had a smile on her face as she smoked and watched me back.
Scott appeared in the doorway. He winked at The Bitch. She smirked.
‘Come on, Renza, we’re off,’ and he held his hand out.
‘See you soon,’ he said, and blew her a kiss. She pouted her full lips and blew one back with a loud smacking noise, raised her eyebrows as I passed, and whispered, ‘I can have him anytime I want.’
I said nothing, but my heart was in my boots and I wanted to cry. I was in way out of my depth: the sneering girl, obviously enjoying my discomfort, whose relationship with Scott was too free and easy for my liking, Scott going away for weeks without even mentioning it, and this awful, gruesome house party… I just wanted to go home. Yet Mo said Scott loved me – I tried to hold the thought – but he’d never actually told me, not properly. Perhaps he’s changed his mind now he’s been out with me a few times, especially now he’s seen this girl again. I wish I had the nerve to ask him. But Rich said she’d be history after tonight, so perhaps I’m just being silly.
And I’d forgotten how far out in the sticks we’d gone to party with the band. Sitting in Bessie Bedford we were encased in total darkness, with no street lamps or nearby houses to comfort me. The wind was howling across Salisbury Plain and there was more than a spot of rain in it.
Rich tried three times before the engine decided to kick into life.
Bessie back-fired several times before we set off down the overgrown lane to the road. Although it was summer, there was a chill in the air and Scott put his parka round my shoulders when I shivered.
‘Won’t take long, should be a clear run back,’ he said as I strained to see my watch in the gloom. I snuggled into his shoulder and he squeezed me tight.
‘I can’t be later than one, ,’ I said. ‘Mum will kill me.’
‘Stop yapping,’ murmured Zak from behind the back seat where he was settled in amongst the gear. ‘Some of us need a kip.’
‘You shut up,’ came the reply from the other side of the gear where Joss was propped against the wheel arch.
The seat behind Scott and me was occupied by two girls I had never seen before. They were already in the van when we got in and apart from a muttered hello, hadn’t said a word to anyone, though I think I heard them whispering to each other now and again.
Mo sat in the front with a girl on his lap and she looked fast asleep. I had never set eyes on her before either. Only Rich hadn’t pulled. He drove in silence, chewing gum and smoking now and again. Thankfully he wound the window down when he did. My head throbbed. Everyone was tired. I had so many things to think about, to worry about, to talk to Scott about – but I couldn’t do any of them right now. Not in front of everyone, and I was so, so tired…
I sleepily wondered what it would be like to be married to Scott – not that that was ever going to happen – and closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT ALL OF THE OTHER STOPS ALONG THE WAY ...
Hi fellow bookworms. My name is Linda and I'm a reviewer & blogger, wife & mother who loves all things books!
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