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The Little Gift Shop on the Loch by Maggie Conway

Genre: Romance
Source: HQ Stories

About The Book

Lily Ballantine is still reeling from losing her job and the man she’s head over heels for all in one afternoon! So with her pride in tatters, she leaves the city behind her for the charming Scottish village of Carroch.
Bequeathed the tiny gift shop by her late, free-spirited mother, she only intends to stay until she sells the place – but instead, finds herself falling for the beautiful shop, the stray cat called Misty… and the rather handsome local, Jack Armstrong.
Lily’s not looking for love, but as the little gift shop weaves its magic around her heart, she wonders whether her mother might just have left her the greatest gift of all?


Chapter 1
No matter how tired she was, Lily Ballantine prided herself on keeping to her strict morning routine. Her battle with sleep – or rather lack of it – had crept into her life over recent months, insidiously stealing precious hours of blissful oblivion.
She tried to regard her sleep deprivation as a measure of success; her inability to switch off from deadlines and to-do list was a good thing, a sign her career was on the up. So she endured her tiredness, wearing it like a slightly warped badge of honour, although some mornings were harder than others.
Earlier she’d stumbled through to the bathroom, her bleary- eyed, pale reflection confirming the few glasses of wine last night had done their worst. The alcohol sometimes helped, just enough to tip her over to sleep. But never for long enough. Somehow, frustratingly, she always managed to wake up at that deathly hour of 3 a.m., when the world was at its darkest and she just knew she was the only person on the entire planet who was awake.
The scalding shower and transformative contents of her make-up bag had worked wonders and now she was preened and polished, ready to face the day. Her unruly hair had been straightened into submission and she was dressed in her customary dark trouser suit and crisp shirt – pink today because it was Friday.
Lily automatically checked her watch as she closed her front door at precisely seven o’clock, pleased she was on schedule. Situated in a quiet cul-de-sac, the flat’s location meant she could make the walk to Edinburgh’s city centre in under thirty minutes. She walked at her usual brisk pace, weaving her way through the cobbled streets, past the elegant Georgian tenements and narrow alleyways.
The spring morning showcased Edinburgh’s unique charm to perfection, its turreted buildings silhouetted against a pale blue sky. Lily loved this time of day, while the city remained largely untouched by the throng of workers and shoppers and the air still held a clarity in its gentle breeze.
She took a deep breath thinking back to the previous evening when she’d joined a few colleagues for drinks. She rarely went out these days, but it was best to show face now and again and it had made a change to drink in company. She’d found the bar rather noisy, and had trouble hearing Harry from menswear recount his latest hysterical story. Something to do with slim- fitting trousers and inside leg measurements.
She wondered at what age it was acceptable to admit you hated noisy pubs, certain that 28 was too young.
She simply wasn’t used to it anymore. Not like the evenings she’d frequented the best of Edinburgh’s bars, immune to the clamorous voices and pulsating music vying to be heard. Erin and Clare had been her willing accomplices but since they’d both left, Lily was less inclined to go out and making excuses had
become a habit. It was amazing how quickly invitations stopped and people fell away if you constantly turned them down.
Lily slowed her pace as she approached her usual coffee shop, anticipating the extra hot skinny cappuccino which provided a pleasant kick start to the ten – possibly more – hours that lay happily ahead of her.

About The Author

Maggie lived the first ten years of life in London before moving to Scotland. She has a degree in English Literature and spent many years dreaming of pursuing her passion for writing.
A perfect day would include an early morning swim, a good coffee, a great book and a few hours spent writing before the chaos of a husband, three children, a dog and a cat begins.
Having landed the role of chief dog walker, she spends far too much time roaming the streets but at least this gives her a chance to think up new storylines.