Paul Ruddock’s Review of Three Against the World

Twists and turns at every juncture – a wonderful mix of romance and human drama.

Romance and melodrama don’t normally feature high in my reading preferences but I was in the mood to read something different, and this looked like it would fit the bill.

After the day from hell, to say that Richard’s life and those closest to him will never be the same again would be the mother of all understatements. I’m tempted to say that some elements are at first reading a tad implausible, but Sarah Stuart weaves them into the story with such seemingly effortless writing that you accept and believe them from start to finish.

The same qualities and compassion that led Richard Carpenter to adopt a problematic and previously abused little stray dog are the same ones that would make him the perfect father and husband. After his ex-wife, Naomi, turns up on his doorstep with a teenage girl, Maria, declaring her to be his daughter, Richard Carpenter is facing life-changing choices and dilemmas. Being the sort of man he is, Richard doesn’t hesitate in accepting responsibility for Maria, determined from the start to be the best father he can be. What emerges is a story of domestic and personal drama, filled with twists and turns at every juncture as his life lurches from one tribulation to the next while trying to build a home and future for his new family.

Some of the characters, male and female alike are as delightfully loathsome as ever graced the page of any book: an ex-wife who thinks nothing of dumping her teenage daughter with a complete stranger to her simply because the girl would get in the way of her new and extravagant lifestyle, a gold-digging fiancée that makes Cruella De Vil look like Mother Theresa, who calls off the wedding the moment her would-be future husband’s fortunes take a turn for the worse and who then strands Maria with a non-existent aunt just to get him back, and an utterly vile teenage lad who would threaten anything and anyone to hide and keep quiet what he’s done to name but three.

Amid all the turmoil going on in his life and a string of failed relationships with totally unsuitable women, indeed narrow escapes in some cases, Richard is lonely and desperately wants to settle down with a woman he truly loves, one who loves him in return and in the same way. Starved of the love she never got as a child, Maria too wants love and the man of her dreams, and in one final twist of fate, both Richard and Maria might just find the happiness they both crave.

The first book I’ve read by this author but certainly won’t be the last. One of the easiest five stars I’ve given all year, so thoroughly looking forward to the sequel and other books by Sarah Stuart!

Paul Ruddock is the author of one of the cleverest horror stories I’ve ever read.

Click the cover the find out more and buy if you dare!

Royal Command Family Saga

The Royal Command Family Saga is an award-winning series of four Romance/Sizzle books that track the life of Michael Marsh from a young backstreet boy to him becoming known to fans as The Diamond Superstar, and beyond.

Meet Lizzie, daughter of a Scottish laird who rejects her inheritance, and Michael and Lizzie’s children born over twenty-five years to a Catholic couple whose great strength is forgiveness.

Lisette, who becomes a superstar and a wicked seductress.

James, a drunken drug-addict and the future laird of Kinloch.

Harriet and Kit, the twins passionately in love – with each other.

Greta, the feisty rebel who falls into a sex-traffickers trap.

And so many more twenty-first century characters, the good, the bad, and the downright wicked!

But never forgetting Margaret Tudor and her secret lovechild, or her manipulative granddaughter, and their influence on the Marsh family.

The Author and Her Books

Sarah Stuart lives on the edge of a quiet English village where wildlife sightings are common, though becoming less so. Hunting with dogs is now illegal in the UK: it goes on in secret and incidences of this are almost impossible to prove in court. Many of her dogs are, or have been, rescues and only those who enjoy the limelight perform onstage. Her royalties are donated to animal charities. 

Dogs were Sarah’s opening into show business. During a period when she lived in Wales she supplied them to professional companies using Aberystwyth University’s Arts Centre Theatre during student vacations. Many musicals and plays performed there were on their pre-West End premiere run, which gave her an unrivalled opportunity to talk to directors, choreographers and the many other vital members of the backstage staff, and the performers. These ranged from actors and actresses in their first, or early, roles to worldwide superstars of stage and screen. That experience, and her association with the Northern Ballet, underpins the vivid portrayals of show business triumphs and heartbreak.

Sarah has studied English language and literature, and history, with delight since her early teens. She is a qualified adult literacy tutor and has written short stories, in addition to other resources, for her students. Her published articles have been in magazines dedicated to wildlife and dogs. The Royal Command series, her debut into full-length fiction, was well received. and the books have won a number of awards. Her latest series, Richard and Maria, draws on more personal life-experience, and reflects Sarah’s love and concern for animals. The books are romance suitable for a younger audience, but suspense remains a powerful driving force.

Sarah’s hope is that readers will enjoy her novels as an escape from reality, but be left understanding that fame and fortune often comes at a high personal cost. Also, an increased perception of the threat to animals: those shot in the name of sport for trophy heads, endangered species, many poached for their fur and ivory, and tragically discarded pets.

Royalties from sales and Kindle Unlimited page reads are donated to charity.

Read samples of the books – links on every page.

Richard and Maria Trilogy


Richard and Maria – Books 1 & 2

Three Against the World: A Waif, a Stray, and a Romance?

How complicated can one man’s life become in a matter of hours?
Very, if you happen to be Richard Carpenter. It began on the last Monday in October, but as our American friends will know, Halloween doesn’t usually start before dawn. That is when thieves are on the prowl, and Richard forgot to bolt his front door. Not that the intruder picked the lock carefully; he wasn’t good at it. Next, Richard switches on the fax machine at the bank where he is the manager and discovers the branch is closing, along with two hundred others, so he’s out of a job. He is supposed to be going to the golf club Halloween dinner dance, but dare he? Angry customers will be there, but he’ll be in costume with a mask. His fiancé, who isn’t wearing a mask, discovers from furious people who guess who he is that he’s unemployed and throws his ring at him. Richard is better off without her, but he doesn’t see it that way. Home, alone but for Ben, his Jack Russell, he resorts to brandy. After a day like that, I’d resort to brandy, but there are twenty minutes to go before his horrible Monday is over, and the doorbell rings. Outside, is his ex-wife Naomi, with teenage Maria, a daughter Richard didn’t know he had. “I’ve looked after her for fourteen years. It’s your turn now.”

Book 2 – Pre-order available – click the cover to go to Amazon.

Two Face the World – Marry in Haste…

Marriage with a twenty-one-year age gap -particularly after Richard treated Maria as the daughter DNA proved she wasn’t for three and a half years – was never going to be easy. Richard intended to wait until Maria completed a university degree – Richard often has sensible ideas. The women in his life have never cooperated, and Maria is no exception, but his feisty bride turns out to be only one of his problems.

Marry in haste, repent at leisure? Somebody intends to split Richard and Maria apart, but why? What could he or she have to gain? As Maria herself says, “the past has a nasty habit of coming back to haunt you” Is she right, or does one of the girls at The White Hart, the pub where he entertains the clientele for his friend, “Mr Pickwick” Bill Hamilton, want Richard for herself? How he or she attempts to shatter the marriage is  no-holds-barred and increasingly unscrupulous.


Spoiler Warning!

For readers of “Three Against the World: A Waif, a Stray and a Romance? 

Richard and Maria’s story ended with Richard promising Maria an engagement ring for her eighteenth birthday, but he was in shock after Valerie’s rejection, so does she get one? The relationship almost founders when he vanishes all day on June the tenth, which is the day. However, Bill – you remember “Mr Pickwick”, landlord of The White Hart? – attempts to push them back together, literally. This is Richard’s chance to propose, but will he when he’s committed to entertaining the pub clientele until midnight?

Check back regularly for more. The first correct guess at the song title I’ve used for that chapter wins a free copy of Two Face the World: Marry in haste…

Well, with a title like this one, somebody got married, and it doesn’t take much to guess who, but this is Romantic Suspense, so it isn’t all over with the confetti. The question is, what when wrong first? The past, as Maria says, has a nasty habit of coming back to haunt you. Clue! What is the one word she could say to our gentle, loving, Richard, which would make him lose his temper?

Guesses in comments – free copy to anybody with the correct answer –  please say which question you are answering!

Lesley Hayes – Making Her Entrance Again With Her Usual Flair.

I confess to being addicted to Ms Hayes’ writing, and I’m delighted to say her new release has done the impossible – exceeded all the brilliant novels that came before.

The sixties and seventies come to vivid life, and three teenage girls are drawn together by – wait for it – their differences. They grow up in a period of swift change in attitudes to sexuality, politics, and violence – everything from still-legal marital rape to the shooting of JFK.

Cordelia is the dreamer who goes to India to “find herself”, but what does she find? Surely a First from Cambridge University will please Beatrice’s family, but does she get one? Rosalind is one of twins, and her charismatic twin is trouble!

I recommend Exits and Entrances to readers who enjoy literary fiction, family sagas, romance – anybody willing to lose themselves in a good story that leaves them satisfied whilst looking forward to the sequel.

Now, a fascinating insight from the author on how this book came to be written and the planned development of the trilogy.

One day they suddenly manifested in front of me – three schoolgirls, clamouring to have their stories told… one shy, one feisty, and one decidedly cynical. Was it a waking dream, or one of those strange events that occur when the muse is tapping at my door, demanding entry? I could see them so clearly in my mind’s eye, and felt I somehow already knew them – Cordelia, Rosalind, and Beatrice… aged fourteen, dressed in their Blackheath High School uniform, so brashly innocent of all that was yet to come that it touched my heart… Their school motto ‘Knowledge is now no more a fountain sealed’ was bound to prove prophetic, had the Public Day School Trust but known it, having been taken originally from the highly erotic Song of Songs and referring to carnal knowledge.

I won’t describe the girls because if you’ve begun to read Exits and Entrances you’ll already have formed your own idea of what they look like. They kept visiting me, sometimes speaking to me at inconvenient moments (often in the shower) insisting that I recorded accurately whatever it was they were telling me. They each had a different voice, and a different story. They wanted me to be their scribe, but I still hadn’t decided whether I would take them on. And then a peculiar twist occurred. I saw them all not at fourteen but at seventy – the same girls, but women now, facing all the things that women face in later life. They were talking together, quite ignoring me. They had already solidified from their original ghostly forms and taken on flesh and bones. They had grown. They had aged. They had evolved enough to discount me. They had a lifetime of history. I finally submitted. They knew their life stories, but I didn’t yet. There was only one thing to do – write it.

As always happens when I come to the end of writing a novel, I am already grieving for the loss of the characters I have come to understand so deeply. They are real to me. I have felt their pain (which as any writer will confess is also my pain, indelibly entwined in theirs.) I have watched them struggle and learn what it means to pay the price of being human, just as we all do. I have resisted rescuing them from their inevitable disasters and transgressions. My task is merely to record how consequences transpire from the choices they make. They are as much at the mercy of fate and karma as any of us. There is a natural trajectory in their paths and all I need to do is follow it. And that is as much of the process of writing as I’m able to describe. To go further would be like pulling the wings off a butterfly. I know when stories begin and I discover how they end, and the journey that takes me there as a writer goes far deeper than I can explain.

This book, and the two that will follow to complete the trilogy, feels important to me. It is written for women of every age, and the men who love and strive to understand them. Each woman’s personality is complex and unique, and yet aspects of her experience will resonate whatever her individual story happens to be. It is also written for men, whose social roles and identity have changed a great deal over the last six decades, and who struggle in other ways to survive life in this turbulent society. The old adage asserts that if you remember the sixties you weren’t really there, so whether you were around then or not, Exits and Entrances will give you an idea of what it was like – not for everyone, of course, but for these three girls in particular who so insistently stepped forward into the limelight of my imagination to reveal how it was for them.

As always with my books, I welcome feedback, whether in the form of a review or a simple message to let me know what it meant for you. And if you have reached the end of it and have enjoyed it so much you are eager to know when the next one will be published – be patient. Cordelia, Rosalind, and Beatrice are still telling me their stories, one revealing chapter at a time.

Why Write?

Found it – the reblog button.
I can empathise with almost everything!

rudders' writing

Depositphotos_2488689_original typewriter3

Well, what to say here? This is an article I wrote back in 1995 for no other reason than that it was the very first piece of writing I ever had published (3rd prize in a competition for which I was awarded the princely sum of £20). I’ve tidied it up a bit since then, but the text essentially remains the same 


                             Why Write?                                                         


Why Write? An interesting question you might agree, but one with a multitude of answers. The same question could well be asked of those who follow other creative pursuits. What compelled Van Gogh or Gaugin to paint, despite their sufferings…

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