Today I am delighted to bring you an extract from TJ Stimson’s latest novel, Picture of Innocence. My thanks to Sabah Khan at publisher Avon Books for inviting me to join the tour. Here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.
But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…
The characters in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.
She put her ear to his chest, praying for a heartbeat, pleading with a God she didn’t believe in. Please let him be OK. Please let him be OK.
Abruptly, Noah squirmed in her arms and let out an indignant but healthy cry. Maddie gave a strangled half-sob, half-laugh and snatched him up against her shoulder, her throat clogged with grateful tears.
She practically jumped out of her skin. Nine-year-old Emily stood silhouetted in the doorway to the hall, her long nightdress giving her the air of a Victorian ghost.
‘Emily! Did Noah wake you?’
Her daughter nodded sleepily. ‘Can’t you make him stop, Mummy? I’m so tired.’
Maddie felt thick-tongued and groggy, as if she’d awoken from a drugged sleep. ’Me, too, darling.’
Emily leaned against the rocking chair, her long, fair hair brushing against her brother’s furious scarlet face. The screaming baby grabbed a fistful in his tiny hand. ‘Can’t you give him some medicine or something?’
‘It doesn’t really help.’ Maddie gently freed her daughter’s hair from Noah’s grasp. ‘Go back to bed, Em. You’ve got school in the morning.’
‘I feel hot.’
She felt her daughter’s forehead. A little warm, but not enough to worry about. ‘Get some sleep, and you’ll be fine.’
‘I can’t sleep. He’s too noisy.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Maddie sighed, standing up and switching Noah to the other shoulder. ‘There’s not much I can do. Why don’t you try putting a pillow over your ears?’
‘Nothing blocks that out.’
About the Author
T J Stimson is the pen-name of British author Tess Stimson, who has previously published ten novels, including top-ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages.
Her first “proper” job after graduating from St Hilda’s College, Oxford (where she read English) was as a news trainee with ITN (Independent Television News).
She reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the globe.
In 2002, she was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and moved to the US. She now teaches Screenwriting and Journalism in Vermont, and lives with her husband, Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.
Follow the tour: