We're very pleased to bring you the fabulous opening extract of Jessica Ruston's brand new novel To Touch the Stars (released on February 3rd). I've been lucky enough to read the full book already and it really is a wonderfully engaging and glamourous novel.
Check back on Thursday for info on how to win one of five copies of this book, plus there'll be a chance for one reader to win a bottle of bubbly!
To Touch the Stars by Jessica Ruston – Opening Extract…
Cavalley’s is renowned for style, glamour and sophistication, providing the ultimate fashion indulgences for film stars and fashionistas. Violet Cavalley has poured her heart and soul into building her multimillion pound business and raising her three children. But Violet is not the woman she appears to be. And her adored children conceal secrets of their own. Behind the Cavalley family’s gilded façade lies a streak of darkness. Darkness that now threatens to destroy them all…
Violet Cavalley had come from nothing. From nowhere, she liked to joke, when interviewers asked her about her background. She gave different stories, depending on her mood. ‘I’m the daughter of a Ukrainian builder,’ she would say, a wink telling them it was not true. Or was it? ‘A French marquis, disgraced and exiled.’ ‘A shepherd, who lived in the hills of Scotland and raised me alone.’ A thousand exotic tales, none of them true. Like a diamond she had been born out of almost nothing, and she had polished herself until she sparkled as brightly as light.
Like the diamonds she was glittering with as she walked through the gardens of the villa in Capri. The large courtyard at its heart had been transformed into an outdoor dining room full of scented candles. The air was heavy with their fragrance – gardenia, peony, freesia, rose. Tables were arranged in the centre of the space, each topped with mirrored glass. Lanterns cast flickering shadows over the feet of the guests as they walked down the avenue in the dusky light. Sixty guests, one for each year of Violet Cavalley’s life, were gathering. Family, friends, colleagues. Violet watched from the edges of the garden. The life she had built so carefully was displayed before her.
Dark red candles rose up from the centre of the tables in pillars of wrought iron, surrounded with blood red flowers. The chairs were covered in the palest duck egg blue chiffon which dropped to the ground in puddles, and on the back of each chair was a single red flower – a rose, or carnation, or gerbera.
She did a quick head-count now. Twenty, thirty, one, two… Forty-three guests were milling around the courtyard, gradually gravitating towards their seats, as directed by the seating plan which had been engraved on a huge ornately framed mirror that was propped up on a stand in the corner. She could see her friends’ faces reflected in it as they looked for their places. Kalisto Kauffman, her oldest and closest friend, was already seated and holding court. He saw her watching him and winked at her from across the courtyard. There was her daughter, Fran, straight-backed and smiling, chatting politely, her eyes flicking around nervously. What was wrong with her? She had been jittery and jumpy all afternoon since coming back from visiting the castello again. No time to worry about it now.
Blue and Adam were making their way through the arched stone entrance which was covered with billowing dark red chiffon (a small air pipe had been run from outside to keep the fabric dramatically puffed out). Their arrival brought the head count up to fifty. Blue wore a perfectly cut three-piece suit in the palest baby blue velvet, with a candy-striped blue and white silk shirt. He was smoking a pale blue Sobranie cigarette. Ever the showman. His partner, Adam walked, as usual, half a step behind him, letting Blue go first, soak up the compliments, dazzle and flutter. Adam was good for him, Violet knew. Steady, constant. ‘People like us need people like him,’ as Blue had put it.
In the distance she thought she heard a rumble of thunder, and looked up to the sky. But it was clear.
Don't forget to visit Bookalicious Ramblings tomorrow for the next stop on the blog trail and a further extract from To Touch the Stars!