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Transcript of Milly Johnson
Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being an author of 11 published novels, 2 short story books and a novella, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer and a sometimes BBC radio presenter. She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls and meringues and hates marzipan.
Suzanne Baboneau is her editor at Simon and Schuster in the UK, and Lizzy Kremer is her agent here at DHA.
Millys signature style is a unique blend of whimsy, humour and a strong sense of womanhood and community, perfect for slightly older females. She has those vital ingredients to create chick-lit with a sprinkle of magic:
Complex, believable charactersUplifting, heart-warming plots
Real, humorous storytelling
Her new website www.millyjohnson.co.uk launched on 18th June. Follow her on twitter @millyjohnson
Connie Diamond has always been her husband Jimmys best girl or so she thought. But then she discovers that he s been playing away for the past twenty-four years, and that the chocolates she believed he bought her as a sign of his love were just a cover-up, and she is determined to get revenge.
Along with Della Frostick, Jimmys right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, Connie decides to destroy Jimmys life from the inside. Together they will set up a rival business called Lady Muck, and along with the cleaning ladies who meet at the Sunflower Caf, theyll make him wish he had never so much as looked at another woman.
Then Connie meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kind chocolate-brown eyes start to melt her soul.
Can the ladies of the Sunflower Caf help Connie scrub away the hurt? And can Brandon cure her affliction and make her smile again...?
Millys option publishers are:
Catalan and Spanish - Urano; Indonesian - PT Kairos Gradien Mediatama;
Latvian- Apagads Kontinent; Italian - Newton Compton; Turkish- KRP Yayincilik
Afternoon Tea is Millys 11th novel.
Simon and Schuster published in the UK on 18th June 2015.
Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Caf
Millys previous book, The Teashop on the Corner (published June
2014), smashed the 100,000 copies sold mark in just 3 months! Pre-
orders for Teashop in ebook were up by 300% on her previous book.
Sales are up by more than 100% for Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower
Caf. The UK sell-in figure is bigger than ever!
Her lifetime sales are currently at 800,000 copies.
In 2014, Milly won the RoNA (Romantic Novelistss
Association) award for romantic comedy of the
year with Its Raining Men. (August 2013).
Millys readers rate her on average at 4.5 stars on Amazon.
Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Caf has received the Good
Housekeeping Reader Recommend endorsement.
Facts and Figures
Lara Rickman took a large gulp of coffee and then swallowed hard and fast before she could spit it out. It was as cold as a tub of ice cream in a polar bears freezer. How had it cooled so quickly? Surely her PA had only just brought it in for her and the first sip had been piping hot. She checked the clock in the corner of her monitor to find that, in fact, an hour had
gone by sped by at warp speed, as the hours seemed to these days. And not just hours, but days and weeks and months. Had she really been seeing her darling James for three whole months? Had it really been five months since shed been up to Yorkshire to see her parents, arriving late Christmas Eve, driving back to London early Boxing Day morning on what could only be described as a whistle-stop trip? Had it been nearly two months since shed last spent proper face-to-face time with her work friends May and Clare? Even then it had been only for a rushed sandwich in the staff restaurant when their three schedules made a rare crossover, like planets happening to align. Theyd eaten so fast it was a wonder that the Benny Hill theme tune hadnt been playing in the background.
Even though they had all worked for the same company for years, Lara, May and Clare had not met before they gravitated towards each other at a conference a year and a half ago, after ending up in the same discussion group. But then again, Cole and Craw Finance was a massive organization which employed over three thousand people and operated from four adjacent buildings in the City; still in the process of being united into one. The three women were amazed to find that they were all from Yorkshire Clare from York, May from Leeds and Lara from Barnsley had all been involved with setting up or trying to rescue businesses, and were all born within six months of each other. Enough common ground to kick-start a fledgling friendship between them. They arranged to meet for lunch occasionally when their busy diaries allowed it. All three of them were hard-working and driven career women, who hadnt had close female friendships for years. In each other they found a little of what they had been missing. Lara was in charge of rescuing ailing businesses or sending them to the brokers yard. May was a business advisor who helped set up new companies from scratch and Clare was an accountant for the subsidiary firm Blackwoods and Margoyles, which benefited from being part of the Cole and Craw group yet had an independent set of ruling partners. Blackwoods and Margoyles were renowned experts at trying to turn around businesses teetering on the edge of bankruptcy the lastchance saloon. At their last sandwich-sharing, the topic of holidays had arisen and all of them confessed they hadnt had a proper break for years. So they made a mad and impulsive decision to book time off together and escape to a spa. And there and then, theyd whipped out their diaries, blocked in the time and Lara had volunteered to find them somewhere wonderful, luxurious, relaxing and indulgently expensive. To her shame, she still hadnt booked it. She had been too busy with either work or her new mad passionate relationship, which was also speeding along at a rate of knots.
She was moving in with James that coming weekend. She realized that was fast, but he had been so seductively keen to rush things to the next stage that she hadnt resisted.
She clapped her hands together. She had ten minutes until she went into her next meeting with a trio of ancient accountants; it promised to be an afternoon of total and utter boredom. Lara had lost her work mojo. She was very good at what she did, in fact too good, and promotion after promotion had elevated her into a career of meetings, conferences and supervising other people doing the nitty-gritty parts of the job that she loved to do herself. Lara was fabulously well-paid for what she did, but she was extremely fed up and overworked. She checked her make-up in the small magnified mirror she kept in her drawer and wished she hadnt. Her make-up was fine but the face underneath it looked tired, her once bright hazel eyes were dull with no hint of a sparkle. Oh boy, did she need a holiday. She gave her short blonde wavy hair a primp with her fingers it didnt obey combs, never had and put the mirror away.She pulled up Google on her screen, whilst taking her Visa card out of her purse, then in the search bar she typed Superior Cottages, praying that they still had vacancies. She knew the exact place she wanted to book shed seen it recommended in the Escape From It All section of a glossy mag shed read on the train weeks ago. Before the meeting with the Three Stooges she would book the holiday.
First hurdle: the site was down. But at least there was a message informing any would-be customers that one of their operators would be happy to handle their query over the phone. Lara rang the booking line. As luck would have it, a Miss Becky Whiteley answered.Superior Cottages, Becky drawled in her automaton greeting.Becky Whiteley speaking. How may I help you? I want to book a cottage but your website appears to be down, said Lara.Yeah, were having problems at the moment, said Becky.Sorry about that. Can I take your name, please?
Lara. Lara Rickman.And which of our cottages were you interested in booking and when?Wren Cottage in Wellem, from August the tenth to August the twentieth. A beautiful olde worlde log cabin in the grounds of a manor house which had been converted into a spa and advertised every sort of massage under the sun foot, neck, elbow, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Bognor Regian, bamboo, hot stone, salt scrubs, hopi candles, being slapped on the back with a cold salmon . . . This place did everything. It had an inside swimming pool the size of Wales, bubbling Jacuzzis, a Michelinstarred restaurant. It was heaven on earth if the hype was to be believed.
It was going to cost them a bomb but theyd all done well for themselves and had earned nice impressive job titles and financial packages to match. They deserved a bit of pamper time. Ten glorious wonderful days of it, to be exact. And please include the luxury welcome hamper, requested Lara. Its one hundred and fifty pounds, I do believe. Beckys concentration levels were middling at the best of times but today her very last day in this shitty Watford-based holiday agency they were at rock bottom. She pressed the wrong key and lost the
screen. She frantically stabbed at a few more keys, which only made the situation worse and so she reached for a pen and her reporters notepad to take down details which she would type up after the call had finished. Visa number, email, address, contact telephone number, holiday dates. Yep, Ill get this confirmed for you and email you the details, she said after Lara had supplied her with all the info. Thank you for calling Superior Cottages, she added and cut off the call.
Becky pulled up the booking screen again. Bugger what was the name of the bloody cottage? She hadnt written it down but merely committed it to memory, which was a bad mistake as all her thought space was taken up with things Greek. Ren something? She typed the three letters into the search box, and bingo. Well Cottage, Ren Dullem. That was it she remembered the well bit now too. Thank God for that. She processed the payment whilst thinking how blinking expensive it was. Some people really did have more money than sense. She couldnt find anything about any luxury hamper so she typed the request into the box labelled Message for cottage owner: Luxury 150 hamper needed on arrival. Job done. She rewarded herself with a drawn-out coffee break and a Twix from the machine.She would have been flattered to realize that Miss Rickman, who was pressed for time, trusted her efficiency enough to assume the booking was all correct and didnt bother to give the confirmation email more than a passing glance at the dates before saving it to a folder on her smartphone.
Man, cl-that is born of a woman, hath-cl but a short time to live, and is-cl full of misery. He cometh up, and is cl-cut down, like a flower; he fleeth-cl as it were a cl-shadow, and never continueth in one cl-stay. The Reverend Duckworth relished the grave drama of his monologue as he sprayed the principle mourners on the front row with a light
shower of saliva.
Behind Carla, her eighty-three-year-old neighbour Mavis Marple muttered under her breath to whoever was sitting next to her. He sounds like Louie Spence. Mavis Marple didnt do discreet very well. Still, she did love a good funeral, and a wedding. Shed attend anyones in the hope of getting invited to the post-event buffet. They should have umbrellas on the front row. Shhh, someone else attempted to whisper, although the angry-python hiss echoed just as loudly around the church. Well he does, went on Mavis. All those cl-sth sounds. Thou knowest-cl, Lord, the cl-secrets of our hearts-cl, the Reverend Duckworth went on, raising his left hand heavenward in a grand sweep. In his own head he was Laurence Olivier holding up Yoricks skull. But the words were mere white noise to Carla, whose sad dark brown eyes were fixed on the coffin behind him. She couldnt believe that Martin, her husband of ten years, was in there. In a wide wooden box. She had the mad urge to run up to it and prise off the lid with her fingernails to see him again, just one last time, to touch his face and tell him that she loved him. He had been torn from her too quickly. One minute he was eating a pork pie and mint sauce in the kitchen, the next he was dead on the garage floor. She wanted to see in his eyes that he knew how much she loved him and how much of a hole he had left in her heart. Arshes to arshes, dust to dust.
Did he just say arses to arses? Mavis Marple asked no one in particular and set off a ripple of involuntary giggling. Carla wasnt angry though. Funerals were a powder keg of pressure. Had she been watching all this on a sitcom, she would probably have giggled too. The pantomime effect wasnt lost on her: old Reverend Duckworth in his thick brown wig attempting a National Theatre delivery, doing his best to enunciate all those elusive pure s sounds. But this wasnt a sitcom, it was real life. This time last week she had been a loving wife to Martin, washing his socks, waiting for him to come home to her on Friday nights after a hard week working all around the country; and now she was a widow, holding a fat red rose that she would place on his coffin which would soon be incinerated in a giant oven with him.
Someones stomach made a loud gurgling noise as if water was rushing down a plughole.Sorry, said the stomachs owner.At the back of the church the huge heavy door creaked open and banged shut again, making a sound that wouldnt have been out of place on a Hammer Horror film. Pro - nounced tappy footsteps followed. Carla sensed people shifting in their seats to turn and see who the latecomer was, but she didnt join them. It couldnt be anyone important. There was no one here who meant anything much to Martin. There were a few neighbours, including Mavis Marple, who might have
been inappropriately loud, but was also a good woman and was kindness itself. There was Martins cousin Andrew over from Bridlington, whom they hadnt set eyes on since their wedding; a few people that Carla didnt recognise, some probably men from the local club where Martin used periodically to play darts; and someone who looked suspiciously like a tramp who had come in for the warmth. Martin didnt have friends and there was no one from his workplace, at which Carlas disappointment edged towards disgust. Her husband had given Suggs Office Equipment a lot of hard-working years and yet when Carla rang them up to inform them of his passing, the woman on the switchboard didnt even seem to have recognised his name. Shed said shed email the head of sales, and took Carlas number, but no one rang her back. Carla mouthed a silent message to her friend Theresa. Oh, I wish you were here. Theresa was in New Zealand with her husband Jonty, visiting their son. How could she have rung them with her news and spoilt their holiday? Even though a little part of her wanted to spoil it, wanted to smash up their holiday with a hammer because she suspected they were going on a fact-finding mission, to learn if they could live over there. Their daughter-in-law was pregnant with her first child, in a part of the country that had all-year sunshine, so who could blame them? Selfish as it made her, Carla wished she could teleport her friend over to sit at her side today, instead of Andrew and his overpowering odour of sweaty feet.
Forty-eight was no age at all to die. Carla and Martin had been robbed of many happy years together. Carla had been saving up to take him on a cruise for his fiftieth birthday, at least until shed been made redundant last month. It was so unfair. Martin had worked too hard all that driving every day, constant stress to sell to clients and meet targets no wonder hed had a massive heart attack. Carla dabbed at her tears with her black gloves. Her foundation stained the material. She didnt care. She didnt care about the swish of whispers that was rising behind her like a tidal wave. She didnt care about anything at that moment in time. Martin had gone out to the garage alive and well to carry in the dressing table which Carla had finished stripping down and hand-painting. Wait for me, its too heavy, Carla had called after him. Just let me finish basting this chicken. But he hadnt waited. He had lifted it single-handedly then collapsed and died on the spot. Their marriage, snuffed out, just like the candle on a birthday cake.
The Lord bless-cl Martin Pride, the Lord maketh-cl his face to cl-shine upon him and give him peace-cl. Amen. There was an echoed chorus of Amens. I now invite Carla to lead you to cl-say your goodbyescl to Martin before he leaves-cl us to join his Lord in eternal peace-cl, said the Reverend Duckworth, holding out his arm towards her to head up the final acknowledgement. Carla pulled herself wearily up from the pew. She was totally distraught and felt twice as old as her thirty-four years. She was clinging on to her long-stemmed red rose as if it was the only thing keeping her on her feet. She walked slowly over to the coffin and laid the rose gently on top of it.Goodbye, Martin. Goodbye, my love. Then it all happened so quickly. Before anyone else could stand, a tall, grim-faced woman in a black coat and high red heels flounced forwards, picked up Carlas rose, threw it on the floor and placed her own red rose on the coffin instead. It had a head the size of a football. There was a churchful of gasps as Carla turned to her with shocked confusion and both women locked eyes. What do you think youre doing? Who are you? Carla asked.Im Martins wife, the woman in the red shoes replied.Or should I say widow now.
WHICH TO READ FIRST?
Read in any order you like! Millys books are all written to be standalones except for The Wedding Dress (only available in ebook), which is best read after White Wedding and A Summer Fling.
HOWEVER, here are some tips to get the most out of Millys stories:
Some characters from the Yorkshire Pudding Club turn up again in Summer Fling.
A character from White Wedding turns up again in Winter Flame.
You just might get a wee bit more out of the story if you read Birds and the Bees before Its Raining Men.
A couple of minor characters from Here Come The Girls crop up in Here Come The Boys (only available in ebook).
Ladies who Launch is a short story and follows on from Here Come The Boys.
Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe is a standalone book - though the more observant of you might find a reference to a familiar character in there... see if you can discover who that is!
Characters cross over books all the time though and turn up as cameos but you might find this helps in choosing.
Novels with heart
Should come with an addiction warning
Lightness of touch
Her stories really matter
[will] remain with you long after youve read the last
A whole lot of romance
Rollercoaster of emotions
Should come with a free box of Kleenex
Chick lit with a sprinkle of magic
Seized my heart
Has it all
An absolute treat of a read
Will make you smile
I wasnt ready to leave these characters behind
Lovely uplifting read
Best spent money ever
So much more than a chick-lit
Characters are complex and genuine
Wonderfully warm hearted
Never fails to please
Laugh out loud funny
Hooked by the end of the first page
Heartfelt and warming
The perfect pick me up
What Millys readers say...
Bursting with warmth and joie de vivre. - Jill Mansell
Warm, optimistic and romantic - Katie Fforde
It is time for this author to make the big time for she really is one of the best in this slightly older female area. Light, fun, warm, infectious and always great ...Do back
her. - The Bookseller
This is one to curl up with on your next duvet day. - Now (on An Autumn Crush)
[the] warm, sparkling new novel from the bestselling author of A Summer Fling. - Good Reads **** (on Here Come the Girls)
A light holiday read, perfect for the beach, perfect to lend to friends. - Novelicious (on Here Come the Girls)
Press and Praise