Hello, Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be a part of the publication day blitz for; The Single Mums’ Book Club by Victoria Cooke. This book looks like such a fun read, I can’t wait to share it with you all, plus I have an exclusive excerpt to tempt you all with.
Firstly, I want to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite.
About the Book
The Single Mums’ Book Club by Victoria Cooke
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Three friends, three single mums, one quest to find love…
It’s 8:30am and I’m already utterly exhausted. My son has lost his football boots, my daughter is ready for school dressed only in her vest and knickers, and of course, my 1-year-old has filled his nappy for what feels like the tenth time this morning.
As for my husband? He’s decided marriage doesn’t suit him, and well… buggered off.
All hope of ‘me time’ has but dwindled to sipping half a glass of wine whilst shouting after the kids. But everything is about to change.
I’m taking control of my life! I’ve joined… a book club.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Wow… live a little.’ But my fellow book clubbers, Amanda and Janey, are my lifelines. They understand the daily struggle because they’re mothers too.
And in between the prosecco, Doritos and googling everything about Mr Darcy on SparkNotes, they’ve convinced me to go on a date with my boss.
A single mum of three looking for romance… what could possibly go wrong?
A gloriously funny and relatable read for anyone who just needs a little more ‘me time’. Fans of Why Mummy Drinks and Has Anyone Seen my Sex Life? will snort with laughter at this utterly hilarious and heart-warming read.
Here we catch a glimpse of Stephanie’s old, pre-divorce life and how her friends have treated her since.
Before I take a trolley, I glance in my purse. I’ve always been careful with spending but there’s so-we-can-have-a-holiday careful and there’s so-we-can-afford-to-pay-the-bills careful. We’re now in the latter stages of careful and have been since Mike left, but whilst my budget is a lot less than it used to be, I can make this work! I take a small trolley so I’m not tempted to over-buy but realise there’s nowhere to put Henry, so I swap for a bigger one and thrust it through the doors, promising myself I won’t shove a giant multipack of Walkers crisps in.
You can get some good bargains if you look hard enough. I make a few sacrifices and choose all the low-budget supermarket stuff but it’s mostly fine and half the time it’s the same as the more expensive stuff. As I’m browsing the toilet paper, a familiar voice stops me dead in my tracks.
‘Stephanie, is that you?’
‘Emily?’ The sight of her perfectly coiffured blonde hair floods me with emotion. Since the divorce, I’ve hardly seen any of my friends. I assumed they’d rally round me with giant tubs of ice cream and talk of what a loser Mike was anyway, but they all got sort of distant and quiet. They probably wanted to give me time.
I walk over, arms wide, and hug her. She doesn’t respond; instead, she goes rigid and I end up awkwardly clutching her expensive-looking, blazer-clad torso. She smells of something posh and likely unpronounceable. I pull back.
‘Is everything okay?’ I ask, taking in her twisted expression, her microbladed eyebrows pinned into two sharp points by her Botox.
‘Yeah, it’s good to see you, Stephanie.’ She hitches her bag up her shoulder and clutches the strap like she’s ready to leave.
‘Do you want to go in the café and get a cup of tea?’ I blurt before she has chance to. I know I sound a bit desperate and she never really was the supermarket café and tea type. Thinking back, it was always a macchiato in some fancy coffee place. I’d never realised before but perhaps I wasn’t the supermarket café type either. I suppose having a husband with a generous income meant I could afford for Ocado to bring my shopping and I at least had time to shower before venturing out so the idea of going somewhere nice didn’t make me feel prickly and uncomfortable as it does now.
She glances at her watch. ‘Sorry, Steph, my two hours parking will be up soon. It’s been great to see you though. We’ll catch up soon.’
She turns to leave again and there’s no way she’s been in here for two hours. She has a basket with a solitary pack of smoked salmon in. She might be a picky eater but unless she’s brought in sniffer dogs and examined every pack with a magnifying glass several times before searching the warehouse for the most exquisite salmon on offer, she’s lying to me.
‘When?’ I ask after her. When she turns, she pouts a little in a faux sympathetic way.
I’m about to say okay when something inside me snaps. ‘Are you ghosting me?’
‘What are you talking about?’ She lets out a small puff of humour.
‘That’s what it’s called, isn’t it? When someone you thought you were close to vanishes without a trace, ignores your texts and makes you feel like you don’t exist and stuff. It’s the modern name for ignoring someone.’
Her features soften. ‘No, hon, nothing like that. I’m not ghosting you. It’s just . . .’
Her body sags but her Pilates-conditioned frame soon pulls taut again. ‘Since your divorce, Bradley and I have felt a bit in the middle of you and Mike. I wanted to comfort you and he wanted to go and spend time with Mike. It was awkward so we just decided to stay out of it all – y’know, take a step back. You understand, don’t you?’
I go to nod but catch myself and shake my head. ‘You mean that because you feel a little bit awkward, you’re ditching me? At the time when I need my friends the most?’
She looks around. My high-pitched squeak must have attracted some attention but I’m too furious to care. ‘Not ditching you,’ she whispers, ‘just giving you time and staying impartial.’
‘Mike wanted to divorce me! Some kind of midlife crisis or whatever. I was happy. If anything, you should be ditching him. Not that I want you to ditch anyone, just, someone to have a glass of wine every now and then with would have been nice.’
She shakes her head. ‘This is exactly what we didn’t want.’
‘We? We as in you and Bradley or we as in all of you – the whole gang?’
‘I see.’ My voice falters. I’m vaguely aware that Henry seems to have picked something up off the shelf nearby. ‘In that case, enjoy your smaller group size. In fact, invite Mike back into your dinner party gang. I don’t want to be part of your pretentious circle anyway. There, your difficult decision has been made.’ I shove the trolley but it’s heavy and stiff. Now that I’ve lost momentum, it takes much more effort to move it than I’d prepared for.
‘Steph, don’t be like that,’ she says as I shove the trolley one more time, and mercifully it starts to move but not before Henry squirts a tube of something all over me. I recognise the torn yellow and blue box from my pregnancy days. Preparation H. I’m not quick enough to miss Emily’s look of disgust.
Hot needles stab my eyeballs as I walk away. I don’t look back and Emily doesn’t call after me. I make my way through the checkout as quickly as possible, for once thankful for the checkout lady’s super speed. When I leave the shop, I let out a heavy breath.
About the Author
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling.
Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016.
Her third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a digital bestseller in 2018 and her debut, The Secret fo Falling in Love was optioned in 2020.