Five on Friday Flashback with Sheryl Browne @SherylBrowne

Today I’m delighted to feature author Sheryl Browne. Sheryl writes powerful, twisty psychological thrillers and contemporary fiction. Our social media friendship developed over a shared love of Jack Russells and I’ve added her current angels, the lovely Pablo and Brie to this flashback post.

A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing. Sheryl has also obtained a Certificate of Achievement in Forensic Science and – according to readers – she makes and excellent psychopath.

Over to Sheryl :

Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Gloria Gaynor – I will Survive. I think this iconic song resonates with so many people. For me, it’s not just about surviving relationship hell (and who hasn’t been there?). It’s about finding the strength within yourself to get through whatever life throws at you, rather than ‘crumbling’. There was a time when I might have. As a single mum, who’d suffered the loss of a little one, I was working a night job, trying to look after my young son. I was crumbling. Somehow, I came through it. Ever since, if I’m struggling when life does what it does… Yup, I can often be found belting out: “I’ve got all my life to live. And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive. I will survive, hey, hey.”

Anything by Adele – a phenomenal powerhouse of a singer. Turning Tables is a particular favourite, possibly for similar reasons as above: finding that inner strength, telling yourself you’re okay, and that you can do this. These are the lyrics that do it for me: “Next time I’ll be braver. I’ll be my own saviour. Standing on my own two feet.”

Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ is a piece of classical music I love. Often played on Remembrance Sundays, it has the power to move the strongest of people to tears. I chose to use this in the opening of ‘The Affair’, so it was a great excuse to play it over and over. I never get tired of listening to it.

Plan B’s, She Said – because I can’t resist the beat.

Something a little more upbeat to end with: Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like a Woman! “The best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun.” Right?

What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.

My dogs. I foster dogs with disabilities. I currently have a teeny Jack Russell who has very little sight, He’s my heartbeat, I swear. (Sadly Snoops has since died, but Sheryl now has the lovely Pablo and Brie)

My PC! For obvious reason

I wasn’t sure I’d ever say it, but my Kindle. It gives me so much scope to read authors I might not have otherwise. Plus, it’s a fabulous editing too

Cupcakes. Say no mor

My toolkit. I’m a bit of a DIY person – mainly because if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?

Don’t view yourself through other people’s eyes.

Don’t focus on your tiny imperfections – look at the whole picture.

Know you are unique and special.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Yes, it’s a well-known book. What I’m saying here is have confidence in yourself. Never let anyone tell you can’t.

If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. No, used assertively, rather than aggressively, is a very empowering word.

Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you

So, I’ve just mentioned feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Don’t I sound brave? I wasn’t always. I was terrified of heights, spiders, finding my way to new places.

The first thing then, was tackling my height phobia. I threw myself out of a plane.

The arachnophobia was a bit more of a challenge (I kid you not. I was truly petrified of our eight-legged friends to the point of renting my house out, which had a rather large variety of hairy houseguest. I would even ask neighbours to come and put them out for me). I took a cognitive therapy course, and ended up holding, not only the house variety, but a tarantula! Yes, I do have a photo, but thought better of shocking anyone with the same phobia. The CT course worked, despite my threatening to throw myself out of a third floor window if the therapist brought my worst fear anywhere near me.

I know all of the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody. A group of friends and I chose to perform as Queen at a New Year’s Eve party. Magnifico!

I also know all the lyrics to You’re the One That I Want from Grease. Yes, we we’re so fabulous we did it again the next year. I was John Travolta. A very short John Travolta and possibly not as good-looking.

The finding my way to new places wasn’t such a challenge. I bought a satnav.

Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.

Ooh, I have my characters in my WIP comparing bucket lists. They’re up for climbing The Andes in Peru. I tackled a smaller mountain, Snowdon, abseiling while I was there. So that’s one off my list.

The other things would be:

See a blue whale flip out of the water. That would be amazing.

Scuba dive.

Deep sea dive (I did it once, but they hadn’t got enough ballast to weight me down. I floated off. They found me! Needless to say).

Visit the ruins of Pompeii. We almost made it there once. Unfortunately there was an accident on the treacherous road leading up to it. We never made it. The downward trip was somewhat hair-raising. The coach reversed down the bends. Eeek!

Book List

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

Psychological Thrillers

Her First Child

A perfect mother. A loving daughter. A secret that could destroy them both.

When I walk into my small family home after a long day at work, I find my mother in the living room, playing happily with my precious baby son, and my heart begins to race.

I’ve imagined this moment a thousand times. Who wouldn’t want their mother to meet their first grandchild? But I haven’t seen my mother for years, and there’s a good reason…

My son’s laughter and my husband’s tired eyes convince me to let her stay – give her another chance – and soon I start to soften. She’s so good with my little boy, and we appreciate the extra pair of hands.

But then one terrible night, I have to make a call no mother wants to make. As I clutch my boy going limp in my arms, waiting for the ambulance, I have to ask if I was wrong to trust my mother, or if I’ve misunderstood everything entirely…

Do I really Know You?

She’s the friend you trust with your life. But can she trust you with hers?

When the police knock on my door to tell me that my best friend Kiara has taken her life, my world shatters.

Ever since we met at university along with my husband, Nathan and her ex-husband David, the four of us have been inseparable. I can’t believe that, suddenly, she’s not here.

The police say that Kiara fell from the balcony of her small, pristine apartment. But I refuse to accept that she jumped.

I thought I knew Kiara better than anyone. But I soon find out my friend was keeping some big secrets.

Talking to her ex-husband, David, I’m shocked. Was she really having an affair, like he claims?

Searching for evidence, I let myself into her apartment. My heart races as I find her diary and I read the name of her last appointment – Nathan. Why would she be meeting with my husband? And why didn’t he tell me?

It soon becomes clear that everyone around me has been hiding the truth, and when the police call again and ask me to look at security camera footage from the night Kiara died, fear floods through me as I recognise her final visitor. Can I trust anyone in my life? And if someone did push Kiara that night, could I be next?

The Invite

Kaitlin has been looking forward to her engagement party for weeks. She’s finally introducing her fiancé Greg to her best friend Zoe, but as the champagne corks pop, her dream party soon becomes her worst nightmare…

Staring at the stunning diamond solitaire on her finger, Kaitlin knows her relationship has been a whirlwind… but Greg looks after her, and he loves playing dad to her young daughter. How could she refuse when he’s already planned their romantic elopement?

As the guests arrive, Kaitlin wonders why Greg is suddenly acting so shifty. Is that a flicker of recognition on Zoe’s face? And why does she look terrified every time her phone rings?

Kaitlin watches as Zoe knocks back her white wine and makes a beeline for Greg. Then, after a heated conversation, her best friend stumbles outside without looking back.

Days later, the police knock at Kaitlin’s door – Zoe is missing.

When the police question Greg about the night of the party, Kaitlin knows he’s telling lies. But why would he? Can she really trust the man she’s marrying? And could her precious daughter’s life now be in danger too?

The Liar’s Child

I’ll do anything to protect my daughter…

I’ve always been protective of my only child, Poppy. For years I wondered if I’d ever become a mother and then she arrived – my miracle baby. But as I pick her up from school one day, my heart misses a beat as I see the little girl holding my daughter’s hand. With the same deep set eyes and long brown hair, both girls look like they could be sisters…

Is the secret I’ve been holding on to for so long about to be revealed? And will my husband ever forgive me when he finds out what I did?

That night, I cuddle Poppy even harder, desperately trying to decide what to do. And when a familiar face I had hoped never to see again walks back into my life days later, I know that my worst nightmare is about to come true.

Could I be about to lose everything I have sacrificed so much for?

The only thing I’m sure of is that nobody is going to take my perfect child away from me. Poppy will always be safe with me. Won’t she?

My Husband’s Girlfriend

She told my little boy a secret and now he’s gone…

Tucking her little boy Ollie into bed one night, Sarah notices his beloved teddy bear, which she bought him when he was born, is missing and in its place is a new toy given to him by her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, Laura. When she asks Ollie about it, he begins to shift uncomfortably, before whispering ‘Laura told me a big secret and she said I can never tell you’.

Sarah’s heart sinks. But when she raises her concerns, nobody wants to listen. To everyone else, Laura is the perfect stepmother and Sarah is just the jealous ex-wife. But Sarah knew the moment she met Laura she couldn’t trust her, from her overly perfect stepmother act to the way she evaded questions about her own history.

Soon Ollie is asking to spend more time with his dad and Laura, and shrinking away from Sarah. Then, when she calls to him in the garden one day, Ollie doesn’t answer back. The garden is silent. Ollie’s sandpit is empty. Ollie has disappeared.

Trust Me

Emily and Jake are the perfect couple. Or so everyone says. But Emily just read a letter that has shattered her perfect world. Now she only has one thing on her mind… which one of her friends is sleeping with her husband?

Emily watches Jake as he makes small talk with their children, still the dream man she married years ago. But when the phone rings and he answers before quickly putting it down again, she sees the look on her husband’s face – guilt.

She knows the signs – after all, she’s been lying to him for years…

The New Girlfriend

Cassie once did something so bad she’s never spoken about it since.

When her beloved son, Josh, dies suddenly in a tragic accident, Cassie is overcome with grief. And, as she cries on her husband’s shoulder, her phone lights up with a message that terrifies her.

I know what you did and I’m going to make you pay.

Somebody from Cassie’s past has found her and they want revenge for something Cassie did when Josh was just a baby. They want everyone to know just what kind of a woman Cassie really is. As Cassie tries to hide the message from her husband, there is a knock on the door of their perfect home. Cassie’s biggest secret is about to be revealed. And you won’t believe what she does next…

The Perfect Sister

‘You don’t know me, but I’m your sister.’

Claire is shocked when she receives a message out of the blue from Sophie, a beautiful young woman who tells Claire that she’s their father’s secret child. Having spent years nursing her sweet little daughter Ella through a life-threatening illness whilst dealing with the emotional fall-out of a devastating marriage breakdown, Claire feels tentatively excited to meet Sophie. Perhaps she might finally have someone in the family to lean on…

As Claire welcomes her sister into her life, she’s delighted to see just how much Ella loves her new Aunt Sophie. But as the pair spend more time together, Claire begins to wonder where exactly her perfect new sister came from and what kind of person she really is. With their elderly father’s mind rapidly deteriorating, is it possible that he’s hiding something from Claire about Sophie’s sudden appearance in their lives?

When Sophie suggests a family day at the seaside, little Ella is beyond excited. But as Claire takes an important phone call from her demanding ex-husband, leaving Sophie in charge of Ella, something unthinkable happens. And as Claire rushes into the ice-cold sea towards the small, limp figure of her daughter, she realises that Sophie was watching the whole time. But why would Sophie want to hurt Claire’s precious daughter? Was trusting her new sister with Ella the biggest mistake of Claire’s life?

The Marriage Trap

My husband has been keeping secrets for a long time. He thinks I don’t know what he does outside of this house. But I know everything…

Karla watches silently as Jason hurriedly packs his belongings into a suitcase. She knows that her stillness is unnerving him as she watches his every move from the doorway of their bedroom.

Clothes are screwed up and packed into the case, along with a watch she bought him for his last birthday and his precious laptop. He takes everything from his bedside table. Everything except the framed wedding photo, which now stands alone. Karla strains to see the smiling faces in the photo. If only she knew then what she knows now.

‘I’ve fallen in love with someone else,’ he’d said to her, just moments earlier. The brutality of those words hit Karla hard and she struggled to breathe as she took in each word in turn.

You may think you know what Karla will do next. But you’ll be wrong. Because Karla isn’t who you think she is. Only she knows what’s about to happen. And you will never see it coming.

The Second Wife

She made her bed. You’ll lie in it.

Rebecca only wanted to help out – to be kind. Richard seemed so alone after his wife, Nicole, died, and Rebecca wanted to make sure he knew he had someone to rely on.

But now she’s in Nicole’s immaculate house. Drinking from her favourite crystal wine glass. Keeping shoes in her orderly closet. Comforting her sweet and grieving step-daughter. It feels like Rebecca is living another woman’s life.

And as she gets to know the neighbours, Rebecca hears stories that make her wonder: was free-spirited Nicole happy in this perfect life, or did she feel trapped? Did she feel, as Rebecca is beginning to, that something wasn’t quite right?

The Affair

The moment she opened her eyes, she knew everything had changed. The stale taste of alcohol; her uneasy stomach. She looked at her husband sleeping peacefully, and knew she would never tell anyone what happened last night.

You will think you know what happened to Alicia that night.

You will see a desperate wife, lying to her husband.

You will watch a charming lover, trying to win her back.

You will judge her, just like everyone else.

You will assume you know what happens next. But everything you think you know about the past, the relationships, what drives Alicia and her husband to lie… is wrong.

The Baby Sitter

You trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

D I Adams Thrillers

After She’s Gone (Book 1)

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?
There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.
When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.
But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.

Sins of the Father (Book 2)

What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?
Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.
But the past is the past or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruelest way possible.
When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well

Deadly Intent (Book 3)

Tormented to the edge of sanity …
Just when DI Matthew Adams thinks he’s left the past behind him, it comes back to haunt him once again; this time in the form of the Conner family.
Like Matthew, the Conners have lost a child in tragic circumstances – and they’ve also found themselves in the hands of one of the most depraved criminals to walk the streets: ‘Dead-eyed’ Charlie Roberts, a drug addicted low-life with a penchant for extreme violence.
Matthew’s greatest affinity lies with Daniel Conner, the brooding father who still blames himself for his youngest child’s death. But when Daniel’s wife and daughter are tortured and tormented by Roberts, can Matthew prevent him from completely ruining his own life for an act of revenge particularly when, once upon a time, that’s exactly what Matthew would have done too?

Contemporary Fiction

Learning to Love

Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely places …
Living in a small village like Hibberton, it’s expected that your neighbours help you in a time of need. But when Andrea Kelly’s house burns down, taking all her worldly possessions with it, it’s the distant and aloof Doctor David Adams – the person she would least expect – who opens his door not just to her, but to her three kids and slightly dotty elderly mother as well.

Andrea needs all the help she can get, dealing with the aftermath of the fire and the suspicious absence of her husband, Jonathan. But as she gets to know David and his troubled son, Jake, she begins to realise that maybe they need her help as much as she needs theirs …

Warrant for Love

Warrant for Love – Blackmail, lies, adultery, heartache. Three Love stories wrapped up in one sexiliciously hilarious package.

Disillusioned in life and love, boy-in-blue PC Paul Davis is moody, broody and not great relationship material. He comes from a broken home, his wife is divorcing him, he’s got no place to live, he’s losing custody of his son, and his sergeant, who’s sleeping with his wife, is a bully who constantly baits him.

Leanne’s caught her about to be ex cheating on her again, but as she’s about to impart her thoughts on the subject, she’s wrongfully arrested for soliciting – by Paul and his partner. Despite his thundering faux pas, a relationship blossoms and things could be looking up for Paul, if only he can overlook the fact that Leanne’s friends, beleaguered mum Nicky and financial Goddess Jade, are about to embroil Leanne in a plot to blackmail her ex. Leanne wants closure. Paul wants a home. Nicky and Jade want revenge. Blackmail, lies, adultery, heartache. Will it all work out in the end or will Paul uphold the law?

A Little Bit of Madness

A Little Bit of Madness – White Knight in Blue rescues The Harbour Rest Home.
Celia Summers, intrepid mother of two, is too cuddly for sweatpants, she suspects. But then, her class at The Harbour Rest Home are similarly clad. Celia loves her work as an art therapist. She’s proud that she gives her elderly independents something to look forward to, even if her partner is dismissive of her efforts. Martin has other things on his mind – telling complicated lies to Celia so he sell his mum’s house from underneath her to pay off his debts.
Unaware and trusting, Celia fights to secure gallery space for her geriatric charges’ artwork, and to keep The Harbour from being closed. She’s even ready to abseil from a church steeple to bring attention to the plight of her old people, no matter that she might fall and end up splattered all over the flagstones. When she does fall, however, it’s much more painfully. Will PC Alex Burrows, the man who’s stolen her heart, be her white-knight-in-blue and ride to her rescue?

Somebody to Love

Sigh with contentment, scream with frustration. At times you will weep.
Dumped by her husband for a blindingly blonde twig, single mum Donna is getting on with her life, albeit not very confidently. In her dreams, she’ll meet a drop dead delicious hero who will love her and her three-legged dog without question. Alas, in reality, they don’t exist. Dashing policeman Mark does what men do: hides his hurt well. Mark has a lot riding on any sort of relationship he might enter into. He has a special needs son. But should he tell Donna, the quirky, sassy, caring woman he’s fallen in love with? Or will he scare her away?
Could Mark be the hunk Donna needs? Could Donna be the rock Mark can lean on? If they look hard enough, can they find Somebody to Love?

The Rest of my Life

You can’t run away from commitment forever …
Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…
Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.
And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?


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