Title: The Sweet Spot
Series: Appleton Vale, Book 1
Author: Anneli Lort
Cover Artist: Louise Mizen Ferguson
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Romance Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports
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About the Book
The Sweet Spot is a classic love story with a sexy, modern edge, set in the sleepy West Country village of Appleton Vale, and in the glittering world of professional golf.
Olivia escapes London to overcome memories of heartbreak, and moves to Appleton Vale to ghostwrite the autobiography of Sebastian Bloom, former world number one golfer and global icon. But he doesn’t make things easy for her; Olivia is not ready for a new relationship and fights her feelings for Sebastian.
Their story comes to a head at the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, The Open Championship, where Sebastian’s return to form sets up an explosive clash with his lifelong rival, Troy McLoud.
As the lives of Olivia, Sebastian and the residents of Appleton Vale interweave, passions flare and the stakes rise.
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Olivia dressed in the skinny black jeans she knew made her legs look endless, teamed with biker boots and a chunky cashmere sweater. She tied her long, glossy, blonde hair back in a jaunty ponytail, and kept her makeup simple and natural, applying just enough mascara and eyeliner to make her vivid jade green eyes sparkle. She ignored the niggling voice in her head asking why she was making such an effort to look effortlessly beautiful when she was going to work for such an unlikeable man.
It was only a short distance to the manor, but Olivia took the car as the rain showed no sign of letting up. The dark clouds that had gathered around the village and across the valley suited her mood today.
Passing the stone pillars that marked the entrance to the Bloom estate, she looked down the sweeping, tree-lined driveway, and took in the beauty of the land around her. Clearly it was tended with much love and, to her untrained eye, there wasn’t a blade of grass out of place. To her immediate left, post-and-rail paddocks contained horses and sheep, and further beyond lay open land. To Olivia’s right was manicured parkland, studded with ageing trees, slowly shedding their crisp, autumnal leaves for another year.
Even through the driving rain, Olivia saw it was a breathtakingly beautiful estate, and as she rounded the corner the Manor came into view.
An overwhelming sense of history poured from the building. It was vast but not foreboding, impressive but somehow not overwhelming. Olivia closed her eyes for a moment and tried to imagine what this great house had seen through its 400-year existence. She made a mental note to ask Sebastian to fill her in on the history of the manor: she wanted to soak it up and be a part of it.
She pulled the car up alongside Sebastian’s Bentley and dashed through the rain, up the steps, to the sanctuary of the covered entrance. The brass knocker was the size of her head, and Olivia had a job to get it working due to its sheer weight. After two booming knocks, she heard footsteps coming towards her and the door swung open.
“Hello, my dear, you must be Olivia, welcome to Appleton Manor,” said a comely woman with incredible warmth. “I’m the Bloom’s housekeeper, Hattie Banbridge. Let’s get you out of the rain.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Hattie,” Olivia smiled warmly, glancing quickly at her surroundings. ”Wow, this is amazing.”
Olivia stepped through the doorway into the entrance hall, cathedral-like in its size and serenity. Stairs swept down from both sides adjoining a central staircase that dominated the back of the hall, and hanging high above, a vast centerpiece chandelier cast shards of light all around, even on this dark autumnal day.
“It’s a family home,” said Hattie. “We don’t stand on ceremony and we like to have as calm and relaxing an environment as possible.”
Just as Olivia was about to respond, there was a crash from another room followed by shouting. She could hear every word and could only assume it was Sebastian and his sister, going at it like a pair of terriers.
Hattie took Olivia buy the elbow and steered her towards the kitchen, away from ground zero and the argument that was still raging.
“Well it’s usually calm and relaxing here, honestly,” Hattie said, with an embarrassed smile.
“Oh God, don’t worry, it’s fine. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything”, Olivia was equally embarrassed that she had wandered into the battle of the Blooms.
“I shouldn’t tell you this, but he isn’t in the best of moods and Georgiana, bless her, has a habit of pushing all the wrong buttons,” Hattie confided. “The combination of the two of them like that is always explosive. Now, take a seat there and tell me what I can get you to drink while we wait for this to blow over.”
“Coffee please. Maybe I should just make a quiet exit and come back tomorrow?” Olivia winced as another crash came from the far reaches of the house, followed by another outburst of expletives.
“Sebastian won’t be happy if he knows you’ve been here and not seen him. Please, stay for a drink and I’ll see what the commotion is about.” Hattie placed a steaming mug of coffee in front of her and shuffled out of the kitchen to broker peace.
Olivia felt awkward and intrusive, as though she shouldn’t be there witnessing this most intimate of family moments. Restless, wanting to be somewhere else, she got up and wandered to the window overlooking the back of the manor. Here she got a better view of the lake that ran alongside the vast expanse of lawn, which in turn was set against a backdrop of thick woodland. The tree cover in the distance gave structure to the landscape, and only the raindrops spattering against the windowpane dulled the otherwise stunning vista.
Hearing heavy footsteps approaching, Olivia turned and tried her best not to look as embarrassed as she was feeling. He had to know that she’d heard the row, it had been loud enough to shake the very foundations of the centuries-old manor house.
“This isn’t a good time. I thought you’d have had the common sense to work that out when you arrived,” Sebastian told Olivia in a voice that was quiet but unnervingly menacing.
Shocked at his rudeness Olivia just stood and said nothing.
“Just leave, Ms Carmichael. Come back tomorrow…and for God’s sake don’t regale the entire village with tales of your visit. We like to keep our family business private.”
Olivia was grateful for the escape route she was given. She grabbed her bag and almost ran out of the house, trying to retain some air of dignity and nonchalance about Sebastian’s treatment of her.
It was only when she was at the edge of the estate and heading towards the village that the anger set in. How rude. What gives him the right to talk to me like that?
Anger made her drive like a woman possessed, and one who had been fighting for her space on London roads for years. She screamed through the village, almost taking out old Mrs Banks who was slowly and painfully negotiating the route from the tearoom to the duck pond.
About Anneli Lort
Anneli Lort lived with a charming cast of characters in her head for a number of years before she found the time to sit down and bring them to life in the Appleton Vale series. Once she put pen to paper her imagination was free to create a character driven world of contemporary romance that is both heartwarming and engaging.
In a public relations career that spanned more than two decades Anneli worked closely with elite professionals at the highest level and with some of the world’s biggest sporting companies. With this came an access-all-areas pass to the greatest sports events on the planet where she saw for herself the tension, drama and emotions that were played out behind the scenes. While TV audiences around the world watched the sporting excitement unfold, she was there to witness first-hand what really happened before and afterwards – the untold stories the rest of the world never got to see.This is the rich and enviable background she brings to her debut novel – The Sweet Spot.
Anneli lives in a village much like her fictional creation – Appleton Vale – that is nestled against the foothills of the South Downs. She spends her days working in brand communications, writing, walking her dog – Hector – and riding her New Forest Pony Henry. The dog shares the house; the horse has his own rather spacious accommodation.
Anneli is currently writing the second novel in the Appleton Vale series – The Country Club – which will be on sale in December 2017.
Connect with Anneli
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To celebrate the release of her bestselling debut, The Sweet Spot, Anneli is giving away a £20 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. For your chance to win, enter via the Rafflecopter below. The contest closes at midnight EST on September 8, 2017, and is open to entrants worldwide.
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