Paperback: 336pp

Published: Lightning Books (August 2022)

ISBN: 9781785633287

The Hub

Nicola May

£9.99

The laugh-out-loud new tale from the author of
the No.1 bestseller The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay

One turkey farm

five wild colleagues

and a barn full of mystery

When jilted crime writer August Saunders returns from London to her roots in rural Wiltshire, she feels lost and lacking in inspiration. Determined to reignite her writing mojo, she responds to an advert for a shared workspace in a converted barn.

At the Hub, with its ill-equipped gym, inedible catering and motley array of fellow users, including a matchmaker more interested in her own conquests and a TikToker with a dodgy nocturnal sideline, August is confronted with a real-life mystery to solve.

Why is Max Ronson, the handsome but volatile owner, so evasive about his past? And who or what is he hiding on the premises? She is determined to find out – but will her curiosity snuff out the spark of romance?

Nicola May mixes mischief with mystery in a fast-paced rural romp that will make Futtingbrook Farm as beloved a location as Ferry Lane Market or Cockleberry Bay.

Extracts

‘Don’t you think it’s a bit weird having a photo of your ex stuck on the fridge?’

‘I was hoping it might kickstart my stagnant brain with some new plot ideas about how to kill someone off.’

August Saunders continued filling her red Smeg kettle. Catching sight of the tired and drawn reflection of herself in the window, she sighed. A huge ginger cat wound his way around her legs in noisy anticipation of his breakfast.

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Extracts

‘Don’t you think it’s a bit weird having a photo of your ex stuck on the fridge?’

‘I was hoping it might kickstart my stagnant brain with some new plot ideas about how to kill someone off.’

August Saunders continued filling her red Smeg kettle. Catching sight of the tired and drawn reflection of herself in the window, she sighed. A huge ginger cat wound his way around her legs in noisy anticipation of his breakfast.

‘Oh, Prince Harry, give me a second,’ August huffed.

Ellie wasn’t letting up. ‘Well, something needs to happen. You haven’t written a word for weeks.’

‘And the winner of the most sensitive sister award goes to…’

‘It’s been nearly six months now.’ Ellie’s voice softened. ‘Surely you’re beginning to feel a bit better?’

‘You don’t understand.’ August retrieved two mugs from the cupboard above the sink, spooned a heaped teaspoon of instant coffee into each, then reached for a sachet of cat food to pacify her miaowing moggy.

‘No. I don’t. He cheated on you in spectacular style, then called off the wedding with weeks to spare. I think I’d be well over him by now.’

‘But you’re not me, are you, Ellie?’

‘No, and to be fair to you, I couldn’t imagine a day without my Grant. That heartbreak diet you went on was marvellous, though. Saying that, I’d probably turn to food, rather than go off it.

‘I’m putting a bit of the weight back on now, thankfully.’

‘You look great, Goose. Your skin is glowing – must be the country air, when you bother to stick your face in it. And those baby blues of yours are getting their sparkle back, even if you don’t see it yourself yet.’

‘I guess one advantage of moving out to the sticks is that I don’t have to breathe in London fumes every day.’

‘See – always a silver lining.’

August pushed her long, messy auburn waves back from her face. ‘Stupid bastard.’ She bit her lip, her eyes filling with tears. ‘There are times when I still feel so angry, but then the sadness and missing him take over.’

Ellie went over to the biscuit tin in search of her favourite chocolate digestives, grabbed the milk from the fridge and sat down at the kitchen counter next to her sister.

‘It could have been worse, I suppose. At least the wedding didn’t happen.’

‘You’re not helping, sis.’

‘Mum said it too. Never marry a man who looks in the mirror more than he looks at you.’

August raised her eyes at her sister. ‘Maybe moving in next door to you was a bad idea after all.’

‘Don’t be like that.’

‘Well,’ August tutted and took a tentative sip from her steaming mug of black coffee, sighing with pleasure as the taste flooded her mouth. ‘I didn’t realise there was a standard time for mending a broken heart.’ The author then assumed a BBC voice. ‘Dear heart and mind, please let me completely forget the age-old cliché of my insanely fit actor fiancé falling in lust with his younger and prettier co-star. If only it was that bloody easy.’

‘Sorry,’ Ellie said, and meant it. ‘I just worry, that’s all. Sitting here alone binge-watching Netflix romcoms isn’t good for you.’

‘Look, Ells, you’ve been my rock and I do appreciate that. But when I start writing again, I’ll be all right. It takes my mind of all the other stuff. And as it happens, I’m off romcoms. I’m now on to anything with Jamie Dornan in it.’

‘OK, I can allow that. How hot is that man! But seriously, writing or not, you being stuck in here all day, and rarely going out… It’s not healthy. There is so much life out there for the taking. Which may sound odd coming from the woman with two kids under two, whose last time out out was to see an Elvis impersonator down The White Horse, here in sleepy Upper Gamble. But you know what I mean.’

August sighed. ‘I know you’re right. I never ever thought I would say this, but I do sometimes miss working in an office.

‘You always did hate the nine to five, though,’ Ellie added. ‘And even when we were at school, all you ever wanted was to be a full-time author.’

August screwed up her face. ‘Be careful what you wish for and all that.’

‘You don’t mean that. You’re just in a bad place at the moment. And what are you saying? That you don’t want to write any more?’

‘Of course, I do! When I’m in the mood, I love it. It pays the bills and more, but it’s a lonely gig when there’s no one coming home to you.’ August got up to flick the kettle on again. ‘Anyway, dear sister, why are you around here mithering me this early?’

‘I’m on a health kick.’

August smiled. ‘Another one?’

Ellie raised her eyebrows. ‘Says the woman who used to run at least three miles a day before breakfast. And yes, another one. I’ve gotta do it. My arse has got its own postcode.’

‘So, what is it this time? The biscuit diet?’

‘Ha bloody ha. I can see why you write crime now, not comedy. As it happens, I was supposed to be taking Colin for a walk down to Bluebell Wood, but I dropped the boys off at nursery and, well, I thought of you and wondered if you fancied going shopping instead? That threadbare old thing you’re wearing could do with replacing, if nothing else.’

August dramatically grasped the familiar velour garment tightly to her neck. ‘I’ll have you know that this is this is the writing uniform of a bestselling crime writer and wearing it is all part of the arduous process of creating a literary masterpiece for the masses.’

‘You’d better go and write then,’ Ellie smirked.

‘Not funny.’ August rinsed her mug in the sink ready to refill it.

Ellie drained hers. ‘OK, I’d better get off. But come on, let’s at least get you another dressing gown for special occasions, then, shall we?’

August groaned. ‘You’re getting on my nerves now.’

‘I know.’ Ellie smirked. ‘Even if it’s just for while you’re watching your glorious Irishman in action. Or, you never know, you might find a real man you want to snuggle up with. And you can’t have them thinking you are a complete and utter tramp now, can you?’

‘Oh, Ellie. One step at a time. Maybe shopping, but I’m not ready to be shaving my armpits or legs yet. And can we go tomorrow instead?’

‘Oh, you’re busy, are you?’ The younger sibling raised her eyebrows.

August rinsed out a dishcloth and wiped down the draining board. ‘Joking aside, Ms. A.R. Saunders here really does need to try and work on a new Christmas plot for her super sleuths, or her formidable agent will be dumping her too.’

‘Good, that’s great news. Not about Madame Fleurot dumping you, but…yes, get writing, lady.’

‘Right! Breakfast, and then, yes, I must get that laptop open. See you tomorrow – with my best knickers on, in case I do decide to venture into a changing room.’

‘That, little sis, is the best date I could wish for.’ Ellie clumsily got down from the kitchen stool. ‘I’d better walk that Corgi of mine before he ransacks the kitchen. See you tomorrow, kiddo, around nine-thirty.’

Ellie grabbed herself another chocolate digestive from the vintage floral biscuit tin and wiggled her ample backside. ‘Oops. I’ve had a little snaccident.’

A smiling August shook her head and made her way upstairs. Then she caught a whiff of one of her armpits and realised that even though she intended to stay in and (attempt to) write all day, she really should take a shower and adhere to her own new-year promise of self-care, which had been decidedly remiss since her wayward ex’s sudden departure.

Scrabbling around in her bedside drawer for a hair bungee, her fingers brushed against a face-down photo frame. She pulled it out and turned it over. There they were, Mr and Mrs Scanlan-to-be. ‘The perfect couple’, posing at the top of the Eiffel Tower just minutes after he had gone down on one knee and proposed. She blew out a noisy breath. Sometimes she still missed him so much she felt a physical pain in her stomach.

quotes

‘Joyous escapism’

Milly Johnson

reviews

‘Highs and lows, fun and sadness. Turkeys, police raids and matchmaking! I absolutely LOVED every second of The Hub

The Comfy Chair

‘Nicola May’s charming page-turners never fail to hit the spot and she has written another winner. Sprinkled with humour, warmth, intrigue and mystery, it’s a fabulous read’

Bookish Jottings

‘Friendship, community and a mystery to unwrap. The Hub offers a great setting for a range of characters. There is enough potential in the setting and characters to sustain a series so I am hoping for more’

Books, Life and Everything

‘The perfect mix of humour and romance with a generous dash of mystery too. An unputdownable page-turner of a read’

Ginger Book Geek *****

‘Nicola May returns to entertain us with a fresh, relatable new setting and chemistry’

27 Book Street

‘You know when you pick up a Nicola May book that you’re in for a treat – and this one was no exception: a fun and easy read, packed full of humour along with a sense of friendship and community. I'm really hoping this is the start of a new series like Cockleberry Bay and Ferry Lane Market

Captured on Film

‘A modern love story for the technological/post-pandemic age of lone working. Loved it’

School Librarian Loves Books *****

‘This heartwarming tale helps fill the gap left behind by Nicola May’s gorgeous Cockleberry Bay and Ferry Lane series, which have both now sadly come to an end. It’s a pure delight from beginning to end. I can’t wait to see what Nicola has in store next for Futtingbrook Farm and its larger than life cast of characters’

Cal Turner

‘I adore Nicola May’s books. She creates characters that are wholesome, believable and raw. This is an entertaining, fun but also addictive and emotional read, about finding your place in the world and letting go of the past’

Ceri’s Little Blog *****

‘A heartwarming read with a touch of humour, it hooked me in from the very first page. Beautifully written, an interesting backdrop and some fantastic characters...an enjoyable page-turning romcom full of warmth, matchmaking and turkeys’

Stacey Hammond *****

‘Told in a fun, laid-back style, August’s story unfolds with love, laughter and understanding, especially with serious timely issues. The Hub has all the ingredients – strong leads, fun supporting characters, pets, turkeys, and laugh-out-loud banter – for an enjoyable evening or beach read’

Nesie’s Place

‘Nicola May did it again. Just when I think that she has reached her peak and her best books have been out, she comes again with a great story and gets me hooked from the first page. A marvellous book’

Tizi’s Book Review

‘A wonderful read. I found myself turning the pages faster and faster until there weren’t any left to read!’

Mrs L J Gibbs

‘A fun and entertaining read with a vast array of wonderful characters and a feel-good quality I adored’

Jera’s Jamboree

‘I liked the contemporary setting and the characters in this cosy-style romantic mystery. The plot explores serious issues through its flawed and vibrant characters, and the resultant story is authentic, emotional and immersive’

Jane Hunt

I adored Nicola’s Ferry Lane Market series so, of course when I saw this new book pop up, I just had to read it! And boy am I glad I did’

Welsh Mum of Three

‘I was disappointed to learn that the Ferry Lane Market series had come to end – but this easy and enjoyable book made up for it. It’s a heart-warming read that had me hooked from the first page’

Kirsty’s Book Reviews

‘I really liked the characters and their individual stories. Nicola May has fast become a favourite author for me’

Netsreadsbooks

extras

ABOUT

Nicola May

Nicola May is a rom-com superstar. She is the author of sixteen romantic comedies, all of which have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK, across all genres, in January 2019, and was Amazon’s third-bestselling novel in that year. It spawned three sequels, followed by the hit Ferry Lane Market trilogy.

She lives near Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.

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