Today I am delighted to welcome author H.A. Leuschel to Jen Med’s Book Reviews to share a guest post and extract as part of the blog tour for her book, Manipulated Lives. Before I hand over to Helene, here is what the book is all about.
About the Book
Five stories – Five Lives
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well-balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
by H.A. Leuschel
Hello and thank you very much for inviting me to ‘Jen Med’s Book Reviews’!
How do you mend a broken heart? How do you recover after bad treatment, emotional neglect, the feeling of having wasted years of your precious life, hence, how do you start again after abuse?
Why me? may be just one of many recurring questions you may ask yourself. Although some people may be much more vulnerable to falling victim to abuse, anyone can get trapped in a toxic relationship, be it at work, school, among friends or at home.
Nevertheless, it can also be reassuring and liberating to seek the answer to this question and find out why and how it was possible to slip into a situation where your right to respect and peace was severely jeopardized.
For all the victims of abuse I have met and gotten to know well over the years, they have told me that once they had made the decision to leave, they went into some kind of ‘limbo’. Finding the answer to the question had become a necessity to start a new life again. It allowed them to move forward with much more confidence, less feeling of guilt and regret. Without that vital clue, they felt that, just as they’d been trapped in a destructive roller-coaster relationship, they were now left to pick up the puzzle pieces and rebuild a picture that they could not see clearly.
In the third novella of my anthology ‘Manipulated Lives’ called ‘Runaway Girl’, the reader meets Holly, a young teenager whose life gets entangled with an attractive fellow student. Will she follow through her dream to find independence despite the exciting pull he is exerting on her?
She was sitting on top of the bunk bed, her legs crossed, smiling contentedly. She tucked her long hair behind her ears, a gesture which helped her focus and usually marked the start of an important occasion. She was ready.
One thousand five hundred and two pounds was the amount she counted and then diligently noted down onto a piece of paper in front of her. She could barely stifle a scream. She had conscientiously stacked away lunch and pocket money, payments for babysitting and neighbourly chores. She had saved every single coin or note that reached the palm of her now 15-year-old hand for what seemed like forever. She felt the heat of excitement rise to her cheeks. This was it, she muttered under her breath. She had given herself the target of one thousand five hundred pounds because she worked out that she needed that sum to cover her initial expenses – a train ticket to Scotland (she’d listed all the potential relatives strewn around the country who might be able to help and thought her aunt living in Ullapool the most appropriate and welcoming contender) and the costs for all of the basic necessities. She planned to make a new beginning after sitting her GCSEs and turning 16. She would probably be allowed to claim an education allowance in Scotland to boost her budget. She’d offer to work part-time in her aunt’s B&B, sign up in a training course and show her true commitment by contributing to general expenses. They’d received so many kind letters and postcards from her relatives in the Scottish Highlands, urging them to visit and she hoped turning up on their doorstep for real would go down well. From there, she believed that things could only get better. Her dream was that after a month or two, she’d maybe be able to afford her own small place and then she’d be truly independent and in charge of her life at last. I can run away, she whispered to herself, her fists clenched in a gesture of victory. She felt an invisible door – that would lead her to freedom – opening up right next to her on the top of this narrow bunk bed. All those times that she had abstained, resisted and stood firm from spending her money on treats or on outings with friends, had finally paid off. She had kept the cash hidden in a small black plastic bag inside her mattress. She was the only person who knew of a hole in the side of it. It was the only safe place in this entire two-bedroom flat she shared with her siblings and parents. She had been making her bed since she was eight, so no one could ever have noticed. Then there had been her deep admiration for the Dutch sailor Laura Dekker that had kept her going through doubts and hesitations. The girl had circumnavigated the globe in her little sailboat all by herself, leaving at the age of fourteen and returning a sixteen-year-old independent and self-sufficient teenager. Holly had watched the movie documentary, mesmerized and inspired. She’d felt some kind of kinship with her because of her own craving for autonomy.
Thanks Helene. If you would like to purchase a copy of Manipulated Lives, it can be purchase here.
Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel (Open Internationally). Enter here
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the Author
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
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