Snowdrops in Summer, by Helen Duggan: Three Friends, Through Thick and Thin

snowdropsLisa, Claire, and Toni don’t have much, but they do have each other.

In Snowdrops in Summer ($15.95, 330 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-272-6), a work of women’s fiction by Helen Duggan, three friends who start a detective agency soon find themselves out of their depth.

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4 Stars: “Snowdrops In Summer doesn’t seem to mean anything as far as the story goes, then the last few chapters bring the title into the foreground. The conclusion isn’t anything I imagined would happen. It brings a little sad along with a little joyful ending to a very entertaining story. I hope the author decides to write another women’s fiction book as I will be looking for one.”  Read more….

—Diana Smith for Romance Junkies

“What a great book. Helen Duggan shows what true friendship is all about. I know I have several very close friends that would do anything for me as I would for them. Helen Duggan combines friendship, family and humor into this story line. I have never read any of Helen Duggan’s books, but would not hesitate to read another one. I also loved how Helen Duggan shows how friends can call each other out, and still remain close friends. Another great read for the summer. Pick this book up, relax and enjoy.”  Read more….

—Sharon Salituro for Fresh Fiction

“In Snowdrops in Summer, Helen Duggan tells a beautiful story of the sustaining and essential nature of friendship between women. Three women face the challenges of single motherhood, romance, and financial woes with one another to count on for laughs, sympathy, and support. At turns funny, poignant, and tragic, this novel is a celebration of the enduring ties of friendship no matter what life may bring down the road.” —Maureen O’Leary, author of The Ghost Daughter

“Entertaining and written with heart, Snowdrops in Summer is about abiding friendship between three very different women struggling to make a go of their lives in a tiny Welsh village. This novel will remind you that in fiction, as in real life, it is love and loyalty that binds people together through thick and thin. After reading this, I’m planning to buy a plane ticket to Wales.” —Robin Strachan, author of Designing Hearts

“Whatever happens, we’ll always be heart friends.”

For “heart” friends Angelica, Lisa, and Claire, nothing has ever come easily. With little money and worse luck, they soldier on as best they can in the small village of Newton, edging the South Wales valleys.

Angelica has no trouble attracting men, but it’s a woman she wants, and she’s unlikely to meet her in her job as manager of a café. Lisa and Claire are single mothers. Lisa supports twin teenage daughters and cleans the local police station while carrying on with dishy policeman Niall, chained to a Catholic wife who won’t divorce him. Claire’s son Justin is a budding hoodlum, one false step away from prison. Sweet but ineffectual Claire is afraid to lay down the law for Justin and too cowed by life to believe any man will ever want her.

Then comes the chance they’ve been waiting for: their well-to-do friend Mags hires them to do a bit of detecting, which leads to more profitable ventures. At first it’s all a lark, as they stumble onto the truth, despite their lack of experience. But flying blind is no way to run a business. Be that as it may, in the face of the ultimate challenge, their friendship remains steadfast.

Says the author, “I believe friendship to be one of the strongest forces on the planet, invoking a selfless devotion and a love that transcends time. And so my three heroines were born. I wanted to show the strength these women have, how they support each other through good and bad times, no matter what sacrifice is required.”

Helen Duggan and her husband live on top of a mountain in Wales. Her body of work includes erotic romances published by Fanny Press under the pen name, Ellen March. Snowdrops in Summer is the first of her books to be published under her real name. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“I’ll try and have a chat with your lad, maybe get him to see sense?”

Claire’s smile was brilliant in its intensity. “Oh, that would be great, Lisa! And maybe Angelica could talk to him as well, if you think she wouldn’t mind.” Her voice was husky with emotion.

“I’m sure she wouldn’t,” laughed Lisa, knowing how Angelica hated kids. “See you later.”

Lisa sighed and followed the tracks of her friend as she ambled down the road. She wished she could help her. But a gut instinct warned her it was too late.

Lisa arrived at the large desk where the duty sergeant slouched in his chair, his dark-trousered legs crossed, black boots gleaming, eyes closed.

“Hi, Pete,” shouted Lisa, thudding the desk with her hand.

The burly man almost fell off his chair. “Heck, you nearly gave me a flaming heart attack,” he moaned. His huge eyebrows bobbed up and down like caterpillars undulating across his pale forehead.

“Well, wake up then. You’re overpaid if that’s all you’ve got to do,” teased Lisa. She knew how it wound him up.

“Oi, less of your lip,” he growled, but his pale blue eyes twinkled mischievously. “I’d like to see you do my job.”

“Yeah, and I’d like to see you do mine,” countered Lisa, her eyes dropping to his large belly straining against the buttons of his top. “You might shift a bit of that.”

“There’s nothing wrong with something to grab hold of,” he laughed good-naturedly, enjoying the banter.

“Whatever,” said Lisa, already walking away towards the cleaner’s cupboard.

She stooped down to empty his bin, raising a brow at the amount of sweet wrappers. She held back a smile as he shuffled a pile of papers. Moving to the adjacent desk, Lisa rubbed in soft beeswax, crinkling her nose at the scent filling the room.

Moving on, she continued down the corridor, disappearing into various rooms. The chores were tedious, but the job was easy and paid the bills.

The sweat trickled down her chest in rivulets as Lisa leaned over the large desk in the empty room. Her hand swept in circular motions over the grained mahogany surface. She was so engrossed, she failed to hear the door open and close with a gentle click.

A pair of arms snaked round her waist, pulling her backwards.

“What on earth …!” she shouted before spinning round and finding herself staring into the depths of Niall’s fathomless eyes, smouldering in their intensity.

“I’ve missed you,” he whispered. His dark head dipped to nuzzle her neck, just the spot where it dipped to her shoulder.

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